“Andrea Morucchio Interpretes Antonio Canova”, critic text by Noel Frankham, 2006, eng

I was extremely fortunate to be in Venice in September 1992 while the exhibition, Antonio Canova, was showing at the Museo Correr. The museum itself is an awe-inspiring example of design and construction with vast halls, columns and rooms – hard surfaces of stone, marble and plaster – ideally suited to Canova’s marble sculpture. Canova (1757-1822) was possibly one of the most accomplished and certainly the most famous sculptor of the Neoclassical movement.

With his roots in the late Baroque and Greek Classicism, by 1800 Canova had produced funerary works commemorating major figures of his time, Pope Clement IV, Maria Christina of Austria. His portraits of members of Bonaparte and Borghese family members demonstrate, exquisite refinement of conception, touch, and sensibility… the result of a long process of abstraction from the vigour and passion of his first drawings and sketch models: the marble works were mainly carved by assistants from full-sized plaster models… (M. Jordan, Antonio Canova, Oxford Univ. Press, 2006).

Canova was heavily influenced and inspired by Winckelmann’s Neoclassical creed demanding a, smooth, calm sculpture with closed compact outlines. (A. Potts, J.J. Winckelmann, Oxford Univ. Press, 2006). Born in Possagno near Venice, Canova established his career in Rome, undertaking commissions throughout Europe. Canova retired to Possagno, where he built, a circular Neoclassical church… [that] serves as his mausoleum…( M. Jordan, Antonio Canova). The nearby Gipsoteca Canoviana houses his drawings and terracotta and plaster models. The plaster models were constructed from drawings scaled up by implanting hundreds of nails within the plaster to provide reference points for the work’s evolution into marble. The transformative process – drawing to plaster – to marble – mirrored that of Neoclassicism’s ambition to transcend the purely functional in a search for perfection, ideal beauty.

Morucchio shares Canova’s aspiration to reach beyond corporeal limitations towards the spiritual. Where Canova used the human body as his means of transformation – A.M. uses Canova’s models. Morucchio photographed the Canova plaster models in 1994, captivated by their beauty and by the embedded reference points appearing as black dot grids on the skin. Honouring Canova’s process of abstraction and transformation, Morucchio extends the metaphor through digital manipulation creating a suite of images that in turn have been further transformed and abstracted into metal and glass sculptures.

Where Canova used the points in plaster as a practical device to control the transformation of his drawn images into an enlarged three-dimensional marble form, Morucchio uses the points as a basis for a process of abstraction through which he exalts physical sensuality and emotional tension. (A. Morucchio, 6 January 2006) The ‘point’ - of departure, realization, enlightenment - also featured in Morucchio’s 2003 exhibitions during Ten Days on the Island. In Tasmania as the inaugural Alcorso Foundation artist in resident at the Tasmanian School of Art, A. M. developed three complementary exhibitions: Percer_Voir at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens; Eidetic Bush, Plimsoll Gallery; and Isola Luminosa at Despard Gallery. Work in each exhibition created moments of tension, piercings, intersections through which the viewer might be free to imagine, perceive, and reflect – beyond the strictures of daily life.

A.M. also exhibited a selection of work at Despard gallery in 2005. Residency programs are crucial opportunities for artists to extend and test their practices in new environments, and to interact with new creative communities. A.M. was an especially generous and engaged visitor to Tasmania. The three exhibitions developed during his three months here in early 2003 are evidence of the commitment Andrea made to Tasmania, and the influence Tasmania had on his creative development. It is particularly pleasing for those who supported his 2003 residency to have Andrea return in 2006. The new work clearly builds on the ideas that underpinned his 2003 work, and like that work demonstrates his sensitivity to materials, form and colour.

The work in this current exhibition reveals a quite fine sensibility, conceptual and material, presenting thematically and formally unified body of work. Light, shadow, satin-like texture and surface and the colour red extend two and three dimensional forms and elaborate the concept of idealised beauty as homage to Canova but equally revealing A.M.’s own creative drivers of insight, purity of perception, his use of tension and dynamism, and his control of image, glass and metal.