Let all things smile and seem to welcome guests, seems to me to be a perfect byline for Queensland born painter David Henderson. He produces appealing romantic architectural imagery from Italy, in particular Venice, fascinated as he is with the combination of its buildings and their mathematics, geometry, scale and proportion in architecture, contrasting with the scale and forms of nature.
“Italy’s humanised landscapes and harmonious urban spaces have attracted artists for centuries. For me, her subjects are inexhaustible; with every passing hour and from season to season I am presented with new possibilities, new moods’” says David
This is appropriate to where his latest showing of oils and watercolours will be on display from today. The Villa Mulberry Gallery at South Yarra in Melbourne, a building featuring many characteristics employed to fashion a villa in sixteenth century Italy.
Created by architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80) and his followers, the villas of his day were planned to be in balance with man and nature and, of a scale acceptable to both and meant to express what he called convenienza, or suitability.
The master’s house was divided into rooms, each of which had a specific function and purpose and included vestibules for receiving visitors, galleries for showing off paintings, sculpture and other precious collections of coins and gems.
The Villa Mulberry is a residence showcasing a combination of science, botany, gardening and painting, while providing an opportunity for artists to display their works and a special place for the public to enjoy.
The Villa Gamberaia nearby to Florence in Tuscany, has also welcomed David to its glorious gardens laid out during the eighteenth century. The incredible clipped topiary encloses a kind of outdoor boudoir for use on hot summer afternoons and the setting is a spectacular fusion of nature and culture.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth century when English grand tourists were travelling to Italy, including the romantic poets such as Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, they were looking for a place to be where the body could be nurtured, the mind expanded, all the senses stimulated and where the soul could find ultimate peace and a place of repose.
They believed Italy was a heaven right here on earth. David Henderson would seemingly agree with their assessment, having now spent much of his life now chasing the light and the beauty of the north of Italy.
There the association between man and nature reminds us of the pleasure of villeggiatura or villa life, which drew stimulus from antiquity and country life, where healthy living, hunting, reading and conversation with friends.
This has been an ideological construct of those who could afford to escape the pressures of city life feeding into the recurring debate of rus and urb; the ideal life; between bustling activity in town and the peaceful contemplation of the countryside.
My companion and I visiting on opening night found this latest exhibition of his works completely captivating. His brilliance at giving an impression of the different light at all times of the day, superbly realised. We particularly admired his handling of water, shimmering and glistening gloriously.
During 2015 David Henderson spent a positive year as artist in residence with a finale exhibtion at c.r.e.t.a. Studios in Rome, so it’s no surprise there are also some Roman views in this latest collection of works to consider.
And, if you fancy joining David Henderson on a tour overseas, he will be leading a special tour to Paris in May 2017, changing direction.
It has been designed in collaboration with Australians Studying Abroad, so that you can see and view the city of enlightenment through his painterly perspective.
This special once in a lifetime opportunity will combine museum visits with a series of watercolour painting workshops in and around the city and painters of all levels as well as those who do not wish to paint are welcome.
David Henderson observes… “people and the spaces they inhabit… are the subjects which interest me most. It is through direct observation of the way these interact with more elemental factors – light, shadow, space, atmosphere – that I believe it is possible to catch a glimpse of each subject’s true spirit.”
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015
August, 9 – August 15, 2016
1a Shipley Street,
South Yarra, Victoria 3141
10 am to 5pm or by appointment
0418 700 565
Watch David Henderson Painting