Art Essays, Language, Writing

A Letter to Danila:- Domenico de Clario

"A Letter to Danila:" (what you hoped for through your lifetime) pays homage to the life and work of Russian born painter and sculptor, Danila Vassilieff. After settling in Australia in 1935, Vassilieff established a reputation for his depictions of early twentieth century suburban life in the working-class communities of Collingwood, Fitzroy and East Melbourne. Welcomed into Melbourne’s artistic community by members of the infamous ‘Heide Circle’, Vassilieff is credited with exposing Australian modernism to the figurative traditions associated with Russian decorative and folk art, influencing an entire generation of unapologetic young artists including Joy Hester, Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, and Sidney Nolan.

Domenico de Clario first encountered Vassilieff’s work as a teenager, when he stumbled across an old catalogue on the shelves of his high school library. Leafing through black and white reproductions of Vassilieff’s inner city neighbourhoods summoned memories and sensations of arriving with his own family from Trieste, Italy, in 1956 and settling in Smith St, Fitzroy. Establishing a post-humous dialogue with Vassilieff six decades later, a letter to danila (what you hope for through your lifetime) weaves connections between the artists’ shared journeys of migration, navigating creative life in Australia and their eventual relocation to Mildura in regional Victoria.

Domenico de Clario is an interdisciplinary artist, academic, writer and musician. He was born in Trieste, Italy, in 1947 and migrated to Australia in 1956. He studied architecture and town planning at Melbourne University, painting at Milan’s Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera and lithography at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Urbino. In 1998 he was awarded an MA and in 2001 a PhD in performance studies from Melbourne’s Victoria University. He taught in the art school at RMIT from 1973 until 1996 and from 1998 both at the Centre for Ideas at VCA and at Victoria University. He was head of the School of Contemporary Arts at Perth’s ECU from 2001 to 2006, head of the School of Fine Arts at Monash University from 2006 to 2009 and director of Adelaide’s Australian Experimental Art Foundation from 2009 until 2012. From 2008 until 2013 he was adjunct professor at the University of South Australia. Since 1966, de Clario has presented more than 300 solo and group exhibitions, installations and performances and has published a number of books and CDs. He has been the recipient of numerous national and international residencies and grants, including the Australia Council Fellowship. His work is represented in major public and private collections both in Australia and worldwide. De Clario is represented by Mars Gallery, Melbourne.

Edition of 300
Each edition is signed and numbered by the artist.

Sonntag Press, 2021
Softcover, 32 pages
148mm × 210mm


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