Venetian Cruise Excursion Inspires Park West Artist
The Park West Gallery Collection features unique paintings and limited-edition artwork by artist Peter Nixon. With artwork ranging from figurative to still life, combining both representational and abstract elements, the artist is extremely well received by collectors the world over.
AN ESSAY BY PETER NIXON • Written exclusively for Park West Gallery
“What a difference a day makes,” as the song says, and a day can have a wonderfully transformative effect. I have had many memorable days on Park West excursions: nocturnal jeep rides stargazing in the Mojave Desert, zip-wiring through the jungle in Tortuga and wandering in luxuriant gardens in Madeira. I recently experienced another of these significant occasions in one of my favourite cities – Venice.
Venice has always been a special place for me and a kind of muse for my work, the starting point for many ideas. It is a truly magical place, a historical monument seemingly preserved in aspic like a miraculous stage set. Like opera, it is simultaneously beautiful and ridiculous; a testament to an impractical dream. It was also a centre for the High Renaissance and home to some of the finest art ever created. A busy work schedule meant that I had not visited for some time. I was excited to return at last to ‘La Serenissima’.
Our entry into Venice aboard the Celebrity Summit cruise ship was a spectacular introduction, the top deck providing unique views of rooftops and monuments rarely seen. I took many panoramic photographs.
When we docked I hit the ground running; there was little time and so much art to see. The sun was baking hot that day but that did not deter me as I set off with resolve and a simple map. There were many false trails and I lost my way several times in the labyrinthine streets but each corner revealed another stunning vista and photo opportunity.
I eventually arrived at my first destination: the Academia, in what could best be described as an overheated state. There I gazed in wonder at several Bellini Altarpieces, Bassano’s Adoration of the Shepherds, Veronese’s Feast in the House of Levi and the crowning glory; Giorgione’s The Tempest, one of the most beautiful and mysterious pictures ever painted.
From there I went to the Scuola di San Giorgio and the Frari where my viewing extravaganza reached its climax with the magnificent Tintoretto Crucifixion, Bellini’s Frari Triptych and Titian’s Pesaro Altarpiece and Assumption of the Virgin. It is an incredible thrill to see these works “in the flesh” after only studying them in books.
By twilight I was back in St. Marc’s Square looking dreamily at the jewelled lagoon, assimilating the things I’d seen during the day. Later I met up with the Park West team; we found a superb back street restaurant and had a wonderful al fresco meal of fine Italian food and wine. The evening ended with a moonlit vaporetto ride back to the ship – it felt as though I’d been in a Fellini film.
My love of Venice is characterised by a triptych of paintings, Venetian Colour – Vermilion, Ultramarine and Gold (shown below). In each painting a female figure is juxtaposed against an architectural backdrop – The Doge’s Palace, Santa Maria Della Salute and the Rialto Bridge. The figure’s dresses symbolize the qualities I admire in Venetian painting: its sumptuousness, sensuality, richness of colour and intricate patterning. Each painting contains a ‘detail’ from paintings by some of my favourite Venetian artists, which serve as vivid examples of the colours in the titles: Giorgione for Gold, Titian for Vermilion, and Veronese for Ultramarine Blue.
This special day in Venice will resonate in my mind for a long time to come and will continue to inspire many new images.