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Debra Luccio | A Decade of Dance

A Decade of Dance celebrates ten years of artwork inspired by dance companies from The New York City Ballet to The Australian Ballet by award winning artist Debra Luccio. This evocative and exciting exhibition brings together fifty-six artworks showcasing the artist’s highly recognizable, powerful approach to monotypes and also a foray into the art of mezzotints. It is to be opened by the Artistic Director of The Australian Ballet, David McAllister AM, on Tuesday 19th September and shows until 14th October at fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne.

"Since 2011, I have had the privilege of sitting discreetly in The Australian Ballet studios, quietly sketching the generous and incredibly inspiring dancers in class and rehearsal of many productions.

But it was ten years ago, in 2007, that my first trip to New York began my love of dance. I drew in rehearsals of the New York City Ballet and created artwork from my photos and drawings of a contemporary dance performance, Landfall, by the Tiffany Mills Company at the Joyce SoHo.”

For ten weeks during that first trip to New York, Luccio would use their small rented apartment as her drawing studio. Here she would create small monotypes inspired by the previous day’s experiences. Luccio says, "I used the tiny bench that folded down from the wall to paint, the floor to roll my monotypes, and the bed as a drying area. It worked well until we needed to sleep.” The artwork was exhibited later the same year.

"I’ve also had the privilege of creating artwork of the Queensland Ballet and the wonderful Rebecca Kelly Ballet NYC," Luccio says.

Visitors to fortyfivedownstairs can expect a complete transformation into the world of dance as they enter the large warehouse-style space. With its wooden floors, high ceiling and beautiful light, it makes the perfect backdrop for Luccio’s images of dance.

In this space Luccio’s work seems to leap off the walls, shimmering with expression afforded by her painterly, layered, unique approach to monotype. Much like the performances she portrays, many of Luccio’s work are grand in scale and filled with great emotive energy.

Her dancers are not depicted in the way one might traditionally imagine, in realistic style, but rather in a dynamic, contemporary combination of expressive abstraction with realism. Luccio has created this effect by using the inked roller to layer colours on a copper sheet. Following this layering of colours, Luccio then starts rubbing back the etching ink to reveal light and form, bringing to life a sculptural and fully modelled dancer, working back into details on some copper plates before printing with fine brushes. “With the strong element of chance, the abstraction of marks and the unusual textures able to be created with rich etching inks, monotype making is a technique hard to beat,” says Luccio.

When the artwork is completed on the copper sheet, paper is placed over the top and run through a printmaking press, transferring the image from the plate directly onto the paper.

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