Design & Decoration S01 ep5: Adriano Gemelli, Gemelli Artist, [Melbourne]
Interview with Adriano Gemellia
I always knew I wanted to be an artist, at the age of 14 I had decided that it offered liberty. It offered liberty of mind, it offered liberty of socialisation, it offered liberty of all sorts of things, and there was no retirement and I was aware that all other forms of work, seemed to be retiring or you would retire from it or it was always removed from your life. It was continuity of your life and it afforded me an opportunity to learn more about yourself. All through my art career I have been interested in colour. In the 70's I was much more within a figurative tonal range of colour but once I realised that when I played complementary colour, I could make it dance.
I always knew I wanted to be an artist, at the age of 14 I had decided that it
offered liberty. It offered liberty of mind, it offered liberty of socialisation, it
offered liberty of all sorts of things, and there was no retirement and I was
aware that all other forms of work, seemed to be retiring or you would retire
from it or it was always removed from your life. It was continuity of your life
and it afforded me an opportunity to learn more about yourself.
My parents were hairdressers and all my family have been hairdressers, my
grandfather, my uncle, and I actually became a hairdresser and it just so
happened that I had a client that saw my portraits and then suggested that I
should go to Cliff Pugh to get taught how to draw.
KM: Yes, but how old were you then?
I was probably about 19 at the time, and I stayed with Cliff for around about 6
years, 7 years,
KM: What years are we talking about?
We talking about 19974-75 up to the 80's.
Basically I am self taught because in going to Cliff, Cliff had his own life, and I
was only picking up crumbs of knowledge, and the main problem that
presented to me at that period, was that I did not have a vernacular, you can't
talk to other artists, it is almost this secret language.
The client that had actually sent me there, said, regardless of what he says
demand to be taught and that was not my nature and I was basically a very
shy person and to some degree I still am, and I thought ooh, and I said, look,
Mrs. MacFarlane said to me that you should teach me, and he said look I will
tell you what we will do. I have etching classes that are about to happen and I
have got this French artists coming out and is going to move into the studio,
which was John Olsen's studio, which he had just moved out of, and he is
going to do Haters colour method of etching. This was so foreign to me I didn't
know what an etching was but....
KM: So you're here,......
I said alright I'll do that!
This Frenchman did come out, stayed in John Olsen's studio one night, a
wombat ran through the studio scared the daylights out of him and he went
back to France, so the etching classes had to be disbanded. Cliff then rang me
and said, the etching classes have been disbanded, I am sorry, I am not going
to teach you.......and I again played the line of Mrs. MacFarlane. He said, ah
look I tell you what, Frank Hodgkins and myself, have got Hatters colour
method of etching as a book we have got the studio set up with rollers, and
acids and the whole deal, you are very welcome to come up and join us. That
was a golden opportunity and I did it, and then said well look since I am here I
need a place to stay, and he said oh alright you can have John Olsen's studio,
so six years later ....
If you are a painter you have to have extremely high standards because you
are constantly confronting yourself, and you are always trying to pick the best
of the best. Well once a benchmark has already been set, you are suddenly
confronted because you cannot do their work, you cannot copy, you cannot
emulate it, but you know what the standard is, there is where this A+B=C
doesn't work out. There is a quality that you are chasing and you are
constantly being confronted by that.
All through my art career I have been interested in colour but trying to find
ways of self expression and complementary colour has always played a part,
and the difference between the 70’s and the 80's was that in the 70's I was
much more within a figurative come tonal range of colour and once that I
realised that when I played complementary colour I could make it dance,
KM: What do you mean by that?
Well if you play a high key blue over a rather vibrant orange you get this
shimmer effect occurring right and so I had this problem as things progressed.
In all this period of time I was doing sculpture as well and three-dimensional
sculpture, mosaic was another thing and then I would come back to it. I would
think how can I get to this and then I started working on the sea and I kept
coming higher and higher in complementary colours until it reached the point to
where I was not able to get any more effective thing happening and I thought
what can I do? And I thought hologram, because it is spectral. And because
being spectral it means that you have such a pure colour, it is absolutely
incredible, so I couldn't get a rainbow right, it is absolutely pure.
What I discovered was that if I locked hologram over hologram I could develop
a sense of shimmer. Why I managed to get a painting, is because I am able to
draw with it.
My primary concern was that I wanted to get higher than complementary
colour, and my initial experiments with it was that I could develop form, then it
suddenly dawned on me as I walked around the room, that I was getting one
form happening on one side of the room, and a different form happening on the
other side of the room, and I thought Oh this has got potential, because I could
change compositional space. As you look at a normal painting the composition
is either on the left hand side or the right hand side, or it counter played, in this
case you had a composition that would move and that offered the ability to use
two dimensional imagery that could be animated by the process of the person
walking. That lead to all sorts of things and from there the development of
having to being able to draw with it, was just absolutely critical because you
could have a walking line. You could do the clay thing but you could do it as
real - that absolutely fascinated me and it still does. The beauty of having to
walk along and seeing the wind line as much as it is a not a very high
contemporary image or sharp image but it is a detractive image and it is very
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Adriano Gemelli, Gemelli Artist, London