digital print and oil on linen
190 x 218 cm
Michael Reid, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney
“This suite of works is from the Double Ground Series that I initially started working on in 1993. The digitally printed background in the majority of this suite of works are appropriated from, and a tribute to, the life and works of Giuseppe Castiglione. Born in Milan in 1688, he was initially sent to the chapel of the novices in Genoa to paint pictures illustrating the life of St. Ignatius. In 1715, he arrived in Macau, south of China, and in November 1715 was presented in Peking to Emperor K’ang-hsi. He remained in the imperial court, surviving three reigns of emperors. Castiglione was one of the first artists to introduce linear perspective, chiaroscuro and tromp l’oeil into Chinese brush painting. The Jesuit Castiglione died in Peking in 1774 as a figure significant to all that ‘crossing cultures’ stands for. He is indeed one of the great early figures who managed to articulate the trans-cultural world.
The foreground images of these figurative works are intricately painted in oils. They are nature images generally found on walks taken at the Mornington Peninsula, from the countryside and rock shelves along the beaches.
The background to The Sea was originally a painting by Castiglione. This is a cloudscape and seascape that reaches a level of abstraction rarely seen prior to the 20th C. Yet Castiglione did this painting in the 18th C. The seascape is filled with melancholy. A melancholy that is merely consoled by the presence of spectacular corals and a reclining figure.” John Young