Exhibitions | Mrljak | this must be the place


4 June - 6 July 2024

In early 2024, following a journey through the North Island of Aotearoa, I experienced a spiritual and cultural re-awakening that emanated from the natural landscape. This culminated in the creation of the series of artworks 'This Must Be The Place' as a testament to the nurturing potency of nature... Creativity inspired by the enduring nuances, colours, scents, waterways, and ocean scapes of the island- resulting in a dynamic interplay of mark making, colour and texture.

- Antonia Perricone-Mrljak

Antonia Perricone-Mrljak is standing in her new studio in Alexandria, her work propped along walls, face in, face out, laid out on the floor, and wrapped for dispatch to New Zealand.

Morning light floods in from large industrial windows. A big, slightly battered, club armchair in tan leather is pushed to the edge of the workspace – a place to pause and consider. “I’ve always been creative,” she says. “Seriously, it’s genetic. If you could pick any type of career that involves being creative, you’ll find one in my family, all the way back to Sicily. So, it’s just an inheritance that I have and that I’ve pursued through painting.”

A first generation Australian, hers is an immigrant story, one of poverty in a culture of making and doing and relentless hard work. She grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs in a close-knit family clinging to fellow European and Sicilian communities and isolated from mainstream Australia to the extent that she didn’t realise she was Australian until she was 10 or 11 years old. She knew she needed to find a way out.

Her break came when she applied for a job at David Jones, “the classiest place in town”, and was placed in the advertising department. It opened a whole new world unknown until then. It was the first step to a totally different and richer life and a successful career as a fashion stylist. But there came a time after she’d had her children when she felt lost. She’d already started painting when she took another giant step and was accepted for a fine arts degree at the University of Sydney. “It was like an explosion,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave this exciting new world.”

After gaining a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) in 2018 her art practice has only evolved and expanded, rich with past life experiences, her heritage, and indicators to a freer and more independent future.

Of her painting she says: “My work comes from a very humanist and extremely raw and authentic place. It’s very very organic. I think in the action, even though it’s free and expressive, I maintain an academic level of painting. In the process I understand what it is and what it means to create a mark and how to use paint. So, I guess if you want to describe my work in any way, I would say it’s intuitive and learnt behaviour in a sense, because I’ve been doing this all my life as far as I’m concerned.”

- Louise Callan

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