I was delighted to attend the opening of the latest exhibition at the Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery. It is always a pleasure but the level rises when the artist is local, and even more so, when the artist is known to me which is the case with this exhibition, Franco Arcidiacono’s People and Places. As someone who is incapable of sketching or painting anything remotely realistic, I am in awe of artists and love to bask in the reflected glow of those I know.
Franco Arcidiacono is a local artist whose talent is phenomenal, according to many of the admirers at the Gallery gathering on Friday night.
Elspeth Cameron acted as Emcee in her inimitable classy fashion and Counsellor Vic Pennisi gave us a rather lengthy rundown on Franco’s achievements (to be fair, said achievements are vast so it would be hard to condense).
One look at the artwork so carefully and thoughtfully hung, and you realise there is no need for words anyway. Franco seems rightly proud of his portraits, of which there are many, and it is fun to spot a face in the crowd and compare it to the one framed on the wall. But it was the landscapes in all their variety of location, medium and style that struck me the most.
I sometimes refer to myself as a synesthete and certainly, when I look at artworks, this affliction (or gift, depending on your point of view) comes to the fore. So, in the spirit of that old adage that you don’t have to be an art expert to know what you like, I’ll describe my reaction to my favourite painting.
I saw it as I ascended the stairs and stood motionless until someone bumped me up a step. I couldn’t have spoken if you’d asked me to. Fellow art-admirers disappeared into a whitewash of blurred images around me as I stared at the 202 x 52cm Granite Belt Landscape in Greys. I heard its music instantly; a distant haunting harp. It spoke to me of seasons, silence and secrets. The silveriness of some of the greys suggested a frosty morning to me; to someone close by, the same colours were “scary, almost sinister”. Yet another admirer remarked that it was like the aftermath of a bushfire in reverse. I got to listen to all these comments as I stood, rooted to the spot, hearing the music and whispered voices, the hairs on my arms at attention, shivering with goose-bumps and temporarily transported to a place created by my reaction to the landscape.
I believe Granite Belt Landscape in Greys was quickly nabbed by an astute buyer. If I find out it was a local, I’ll be angling for an invite to coffee. In the meantime, if you’re looking for me, you’ll probably find me at the gallery, all glassy-eyed and distant.