David Henderson – Venice, a Work in Progress

Shimmering David Henderson

Courtesy artist David Henderson, Ca’ Malcanton Garden, ink and watercolour, 2014

How do you capture the magic of Venice, the shimmering elusive light reflecting off the water of a quiet canal on a summer day?

Then there is the gently fading once vibrant colours of the cracking plaster on its glorious buildings or the pigeons rising skyward to hover gloriously over St Marks Square.

Perhaps its an abundance of the flowers that captures your attention as they burst forth through the cracks in a high wall spilling bounteously over its parapet to cascade down the side of it like a floral celebration of the quiet life going on behind it many long for.

There is one name to remember David Henderson, a Brisbane artist based in Australia and Italy. He seems to know and understand all about the ‘light’.

“I am very fortunate to be able to divide my time between Italy and Brisbane, supporting myself as an artist” said David recently, “My ongoing search for a new truth in Venice’s light, atmosphere, architecture and art is the very essence of my work,” he said.

Rio Santa Marina, Venice courtesy artist David Henderson, 2014

For David. Venice is his daily work in progress, his nemesis.

It is the one place he returns to each year in an endeavour to capture its soul with his ink and watercolours, or his oils on canvas.

He comes close to understanding what this glorious ancient city built on wooden pylons driven into the mud fathoms below is all about, perhaps more than any other contemporary artist.

He’s also become a local tourist attraction painting ‘en plein air’, as people today are so unused to seeing ‘live artists’.

Trained at the Royal Academy schools in London originally, David Henderson‘s latest exhibition of new work will be revealed at the Graydon Gallery in New Farm at Brisbane 22nd August to Sunday 31st August.

Le Serenissima the most Serene Republic, her rise to, and fall from glory, includes the architectural style of virtuoso Venetian architect Andrea Palladio.

The streets and canals of Venice are the main subject in this latest showing of 25 works.

“I love the vibrancy of the city and most of the time I paint out in the open to capture its many moods” David said “Often it can be quite a melancholy place, something a little bit sad about it. And then sometimes it can be a really joyful, lightly coloured, sunny place,”

David describes Venice as the perfect ‘laboratory’ to investigate the expressive properties of light and tonality.

“As an out-of-doors painter I depict all kinds of light according to the season, weather and time of day – each has its own character, “said David.

San Giorgio 2

San Giorgio, courtesy artist David Henderson, 2014

The highlight this year will be small study The Island of San Giorgio that David is entering in the Tattersall’s Club Landscape Art Prize. It’s the 25th anniversary year of them giving out this much sought after award in Brisbane, winners including such luminaries as Margaret Olley, Robert Dickerson, John Coburn, Charles Blackman, David and Jamie Boyd and Judy Cassab to name a few.

David has made Venice his second home since 1995 when he began leading Italian tours for the organisation Australians Studying Abroad (ASA).

This role perfectly showcases David’s artistic and academic backgrounds.

He loves to share his knowledge of Italy, the Italian language and his painting skills which those who arrive each year to see what next he has on offer to tempt them will attest to.

Venice by Henderson

Towards the Piazza, courtesy artist David Henderson, 2014

“Since Italy is further from the equator than Australia, light at this hour lasts longer. This means I have a greater window of opportunity to depict it – to get it down on canvas before the day ends”.

“I’m drawn to the subdued harmony of evening, when the low sun casts surprising patterns of light and shade and its mellow warmth seems to coax the colour out of objects.

And always at the back of mind when I am working plein air capturing the beautiful Venetian cityscape are the examples of past illustrious painters such as Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto” After all, David has now joined the ranks of the artists before him that “… were first and foremost painters of light,” he said.

Then David finally muses…“And always at the back of mind when I am working plein air capturing the beautiful Venetian cityscape are the examples of past illustrious painters such as Bellini, Titian and Tintoretto. The famous artists of Venice were first and foremost painters of light,”

David Henderson

Preview 22nd August
23rd – 31st August, 2014
Daily 10am to 5pm

Graydon Gallery
29 Merthyr Road
New Farm, Brisbane

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014


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