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3 – 31 July 2016


In 1914, James Fardoulys (1900-1975) boarded a ship from Greece to join his uncle and other Kytherians working in Australia. A century later, Dean Manning (b1964) took this journey in reverse, to immerse himself in the culture of his father’s homeland. The Air is Free connects these two artists’ stories, setting in dialogue a new series of paintings completed in Athens by Manning, and a selection of paintings by James Fardoulys from 1961 to 1971. Fardoulys dedicated himself to painting after retiring from driving a Brisbane taxi in 1960. Within a few years, he became known as one of Australia’s foremost naïve artists. For his paintings, he drew on memories of travelling around outback Queensland and New South Wales in the 1920s, including when he toured and performed with his ventriloquist wife’s

vaudeville troupe, and a brief stint as a shearer and farmhand. In a fantastically idiosyncratic fashion, he mixed these memories with whimsy, and history with fantasy. Australian outback and colonial scenes take on a carnivalesque feel with action-packed canvases painted in high register colour. Manning came across Fardoulys’ work several years ago, and was immediately bewitched by his colourful life and the audacity of his paintings. Like Fardoulys, Manning is part of the Greek diaspora and a self-taught painter. Although he went to art school, his studies were in film and animation, and his passion was music. After he had recorded the first album with his band, Leonardo’s Bride, he did the artwork for the album cover, and for each song in the record notes. His style draws on folk and naïve art,


with an influence possibly being all the rural agricultural shows he went to with his father as a child and into his twenties. The exhibition begins with Manning’s storyboard of Fardoulys’ life, The Lovesong of J Nicholas Fardoulys, tracing his journey from his childhood in Kythera to his verandah-cum-studio in Brisbane. In the last frame are Fardoulys’ paintings Smithies and one of his many highly sought-after works of his beloved cat, Doula.

arriving in Onassis’ port, Ariadne’s thread and the Minotaur. Music and film permeates much of his work, as his paintings and video animation find their way beneath the surface of Greek culture. Fardoulys’ paintings have been lent from private and public collections, and many have never previously been exhibited in Sydney. The Queensland Art Gallery held a retrospective of his work in 2010, however it has rarely been seen in Sydney since his solo exhibition here in the 1970s. The Air is Free is a small step towards addressing this oversight.

It continues with paintings of Greek life that Manning began in Bundeena and continued in Athens. Using traditional dry Greek pigments Catherine Benz, July 2016 (those used by icon painters), he etches out Curator - Delmar Gallery fragments of Athenian life: portraits of rembetiko singers from the 1920s, graffiti and street protests, smoke and conversation in cafes, refugees


from left: JAMES FARDOULYS St George and the Dragon 1967 – A Gallery in the Never Never 1965 – Stampede under Aurora Australis 1971 (Artbank Collection)


JAMES FARDOULYS A Day of Play on the Barcoo 1965


“My cat is a famous cat, you know. He is in a lot of paintings. They want him. He is about fourteen years of age. He has been painted dozens of times, you know, by request.” James Fardoulys interviewed by Geoffrey Lehmann in 1972, published in “Australian Primitive Painters”, University of Queensland Press, 1977 JAMES FARDOULYS Douly on the Muster 1969 oil on canvas on board, 40 x 50cm


“When I was with the show I did a bit of singing. Good stuff. You wouldn’t call them classics. Not cheap stuff, either. I sang “Macushla” once. That was a beautiful thing. “I paint over here on the verandah, in the corner. That’s the factory, right here. I paint mostly out of the tube. I don’t dissolve my paint. I work with very small brushes. I have no palette. I squeeze from the tube to the brush.” JAMES FARDOULYS Blue Roses 1964 oil on canvas, 77 x 87.5cm Collection of Ray Hughes, Sydney


from left: JAMES FARDOULYS Birdsin Disney’s Paradise 1966 – Thoroughbreds 1963 – Douly on the Muster 1969 – The Story of Nativity in the Nor West no. 2 1963


“That painting of the Lord up there, that’s off that big painting of the atomic bomb. I couldn’t destroy that, you know. I had great faith in that painting. “I do not think Greek icons in churches when I was a child have influenced my work. I want to put a bit more crudeness in it.” JAMES FARDOULYS War and Peace 1965 oil on canvas, 25.5 x 30cm


“Life is a very funny thing, you know. It’s full of dreams. I’ve always been a dreamer. I was never satisfied with what I was doing, you what I mean? Never satisfied, until I had a go at the next one. “ JAMES FARDOULYS Infinity of Time 1964 oil on canvas, 46 x 58cm


from left: DEAN MANNING School 2016 – Dancer 2016 – Duo 2016 – Rolling 2016 – Irene 2016


“I went to Greek language school in Athens. The lessons would start with a quick whip around the classroom with each of us introducing ourselves and saying where we were from, in Greek. My fellow students were from far and wide; Lebanon, Morocco, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen. They were in Athens to wait out the war and return home. In the meantime they were trying as best to assimilate. The lesson were free and taught by volunteers.� DEAN MANNING School 2016 oil on wood 50 x 42cm


“I love how the early rembetika recordings are punctuated with occasional shout outs to friends in the room. Even today in the clubs and bars, that rapport still exists. Someone from the audience will jump up to perform zeibekiko, a solo dance. The dancer becomes the focus and the musicians seem to follow them.� DEAN MANNING Dancer 2016 oil on wood 35 x 25.7cm


from left: DEAN MANNING Coffee 2016 – Black hat 2016 – I love you baby and I always will 2015 – Kensington Primary 2015


Smoke in Moonlight As any traveller will tell you, a journey is a way of finding out what you miss as much as discovering what you never knew you needed. So I have come here to paint the absence of things as much as their presence. And having captured their absence I take great satisfaction in obscuring them. Perhaps with smoke, or a shadow or the presence of someone who has taken their place. Whoever they may be. But no matter how far you travel, their shadow reaches you, darkens your canvas as if they were standing over your shoulder. You paint around their outline and fill the darkness with all those things you forgot you wanted. I am running away. To find a place I can be and not have to worry about post libidinal platitudes of safety when all I want to do is stare death in the eye. We find our own rules here. We wish each other good health and good night and keep our hearts on our sleeves where they ought to be.

This place is discovered in darkness, in the streets and bars, in squares and plazas that are two thousand years old. Older, much older still. Old enough that it doesn’t matter. People don’t stop to think of those things. They don’t need to. They’re trying to add another layer of patina to the marble. It’s a city of shadows. Hidden corners. Piles of rubble. Echoes. I have never been anywhere which made art seem so necessary. I use local pigments and I drink local wine and talk to local girls and dance to music that sounds like smoke in moonlight. Words fail me. They have failed me again. But then I never wanted to say these things. I have almost forgotten why I came, which is of course, the reason for my trip. These are paintings of those things which I have forgotten. - Dean Manning (with Ian Shadwell)


ANTON PULVIRENTI


“I saw written recently on the outside of the toilet block in Taylor Square, Sydney, ‘In the labyrinth ones does not meet the minotaur, one meets oneself’. Maybe I didn’t know this when I painted the minotaur self portraits but it best explains what I was feeling then.” DEAN MANNING Minotaur 2016 oil on wood, 55 x 42cm


“There is a tradition in Greece that at Christmas time, instead of Christmas trees, houses, shops and public spaces display a boat. This tradition dates back to Greece’s history as a sea faring nation and at Christmas when thoughts turned to the sailors at sea. This tradition is slowly giving way but there are still many prayers for sailors.” DEAN MANNING Sailor #3 2016 oil on wood 120 x 50cm


“This was inspired by the Alexandros Padadiamandis short story ‘Handmaiden’ where Diomas the old weather-beaten sailor unfortunately agrees to take ‘a foal of an ass’ onto his already overladen dinghy for some wine and tobacco.”

DEAN MANNING Donkey 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox 24 x 21cm


EXHIBITED WORKS

JAMES FARDOULYS The air is free 1963 oil on canvas, 47 x 57.5cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane Birds in Disney’s paradise 1966 oil on board, 44.5 x 54.5cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane Reincarnation of the forest 1961 oil on board, 76 x 60cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane Stampede under Aurora Australis 1971 oil on board, 76 x 91cm Artbank Collection Blue Roses 1964 oil on canvas, 77 x 87.5cm Collection of Ray Hughes, Sydney War and peace 1965 oil on canvas, 25.5 x 30cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane

Thoroughbreds 1963 oil on canvas, 30 x 40.5cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane

Douly on a Picnic 1971 oil on canvas on board, 33 x 41cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane

A day of play on the Barcoo 1965 oil on canvas, 59 x 134.5cm Private collection, Brisbane

Douly on the rainbow trail 1971 oil on canvas on board, 40 x 50cm Private collection, Sydney

Infinity of time 1964 oil on canvas, 46 x 58cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane

St George and the Dragon 1967 oil on canvas on board, 39 x 49cm Collection of Andrew Baker, Brisbane

Xmas truce by the waterhole 1962 oil on canvas, 46 x 71cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane

Story of Nativity in the Nor West No. 2 1963 oil on canvas on wood panel 57 x 90.5cm Private collection, Sydney

Douly gets the bird 1969 oil on canvas on board, 25.5 x 40.5cm Private collection, Sydney Animal Devotion - Ye Olde Sydney Town 1850 1969 oil on canvas on board, 40 x 50cm Courtesy of Heiser Gallery, Brisbane Douly on the Muster 1969 oil on canvas on board, 39.5 x 49.5cm Fardoulys Family Collection, Brisbane

A gallery in the Never Never 1965 oil on canvas on wood panel, 45 x 70cm Private collection, Brisbane Jedda 1965 oil on canvas over ply, 51 x 72cm Private collection, Sydney Every maid’s dream 1961 oil on board, 44 x 66cm Private collection, Brisbane


DEAN MANNING Donkey 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox, 24 x 21cm Minotaur (checkered floor) 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox, 22 x 17.5cm Moustache 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox, 20.5 x 16cm Parrot # 2 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox 21.5 x 20.5cm Sailor 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox, 23.5 x 16cm Sailor’s Wife 2016 ink, pigment and resin on paper, lightbox, 20.5 x 17cm Athens 2016 oil on oil on wood, 73 x 48 cm

Bandmaster 2016 oil on oil on wood, 33 x 28 cm Black Hat 2015 oil on oil on wood, 75 x 57.1 cm Boat 2016 oil on oil on wood, 28 x 25 cm Café 2015 oil on oil on wood, 57.4 x 76.4 cm Cap 2015 oil on oil on wood, 61 x 47.4 cm Clown 2016 oil on oil on wood, 34 x 28 cm Coffee 2016 oil on oil on wood, 35 x 25 cm Dancer 2016 oil on oil on wood, 35 x 25.7cm December 9 2015 oil on oil on wood, 40 x 34cm


Duo 2016 oil on oil on wood, 35 x 25 cm

Rolling 2016 oil on oil on wood, 34.5 x 24.5 cm

Football 2016 oil on oil on wood, 26 x 21 cm

Sailor #2 2016 oil on oil on wood, 62 x 47 cm

I Love You Baby and I Always Will 2015 oil on oil on wood, 39 x 47.5 cm

Sailor #3 2016 oil on oil on wood, 120 x 50 cm

Irene 2016 oil on oil on wood, 35 x 26 cm

School 2016 oil on oil on wood, 50 x 42 cm

Kensington Primary 2015 oil on oil on wood, 98 x 74.5 cm

Sweeper 2015 oil on oil on wood, 54.4 x 38 cm

Minotaur 2016 oil on oil on wood, 55 x 42 cm

Trio 2016 oil on oil on wood, 35 x 25cm

Pipe 2015 oil on oil on wood, 32.9 x 24 cm

Thread 2016 oil on oil on wood, 19 x 14cm

Piraeus 2016 oil on oil on wood, 73 x 24 cm

Top Hat 2016 oil on oil on wood, 31 x 26cm

Player 2016 oil on oil on wood, 40 x 34.5 cm

The Lovesong of J Nicholas Fardoulys 2014 oil on oil on wood, 75 x 75cm Private collection, Sydney

Thread 2016 video animation 3:49 Bow 2015 video animation 3:00


DIMITRIOS NIKOLOIS (JAMES NICHOLAS) FARDOULYS was born at Potamos, Kythera (Greece) in 1900. Opportunities for the next generation were limited in this farming community so he was sent to Australia at the outbreak of WWI, aged fourteen years. His journey was disrupted by an enforced stay in Colombo before he finally made his way to Warwick where he was under the care of an uncle, Mick Catsoulis. For the next twelve years he worked in cafes in Queensland and New South Wales including the Golden Gate Café, Southport, which he operated for a year in 1922. He also worked on farms and sheep stations which were later to be the inspiration for some of his paintings. In 1925 Fardoulys married Gladys Knight (1904-70) who performed as a ventriloquist with a travelling troupe and joined them in their tours of country Queensland and northern New South Wales. Later they operated the Olympia Café in Goondiwindi (then owned by Mick Catsoulis) until it burned down in 1931. The family,

which now included two girls and two boys, settled in Brisbane the same year and for the next 29 years Fardoulys worked as a taxi driver. It was after his retirement and following the example of his fellow naïve artist Charles Callins (1887-1982) that he took up painting seriously in 1960. He recalled of his school days in Kythera: “Art was compulsory, and I was pretty good at school as a youngster in black and white. From that I went to oils without any tuition whatever.” He also admitted that when in Brisbane during the early years of the Great Depression “I used to do a little painting to amuse myself and could always sell one for £2 or £3. This kept us going”. Matilda Joe at Cleveland was included in the HC Richard’s Prize at the Queensland Art Gallery in 1961, the first in what became a significant body of work. He regularly participated in group exhibitions in Brisbane including the Queensland Art Gallery’s HC Richards and LJ Harvey Prizes from 1965 to 1972 and received


special encouragement from the members of the Contemporary Art Society (Queensland). A widely recognised work, Blue Roses, was acquired by art dealer Ray Hughes after being exhibited in the Society’s Annual Autumn Exhibition in 1965. Brisbane’s principal art critic of the period, Dr Gertrude Langer, became familiar with Fardoulys’ work and she awarded him a joint first prize at the 1964 WaranaCaltex Queensland Art Competition for The story of the Nativity in the north-west. She continued to demonstrate her enthusiasm for his work in her review of his first solo exhibition at the Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane, two years later and awarded him the 1969 Warana Caltex Prize in the ‘Traditional oil’ category. Other solo exhibitions of his work were held at the Design Arts Centre, Brisbane, in 1968 and 1970, Bonython Art Gallery, Sydney in 1969 and, jointly with Charles Callins the year following his death, at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane in 1976. [In 2010, the Queensland Art Gallery held a retrospective exhibition,

James Fardoulys: A Queensland Naïve Artist.] Although Fardoulys’s work had been well received in Brisbane, he attributed his greatest promotion to the efforts of the humourist Barry Humphries who commissioned the portrait used for the cover of his 1968 publication The Barry Humphries book of Innocent Australian Verse. By this time Fardoulys was already represented in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Fardoulys was very proud of his categorization as a naïve painter and stated his qualifications for being so considered: “I work for depth and clarity as far as the eye can see. You must be able to see all the detail, even from a distance. There is no haze in my paintings.” But he also asserted that “All my paintings are purely imagination, and they all have a story. To be a ‘primitive’ you give all the detail and more or less a story as well”. Abridged excerpt from biography by Glenn Cooke, published on Design & Art Australia Online (reproduced by permission)


DEAN MANNING Born 1964, Sydney, Lives and works in Sydney Education 1984 Bachelor of Visual Arts, Newcastle University (film & animation) Solo Exhibitions 2014 And As A Monkey You Took Me To The Fair, Sheffer Gallery, Sydney 2011 Midgets & Giants, Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney 2009 For the Man with the Clean Cut Look, Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney 2008 12 Months, Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney Group Exhibitions 2015 Street Stories, Delmar Gallery, Sydney; Salon Des Refuses, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney; Well Red, Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney; Lemnos, The Greek Dimension, Embassy Of Greece, Canberra


2011 Artist/Artists, Benalla Regional Art Gallery, Victoria 2010 Sulman Prize, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; Mosman Art Prize, Mosman Art Gallery, Sydney 2010 Carnivale, Lake Macquarie Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie; Time Travel: Reimagining The Past, Tweed River Art Gallery; Melbourne Art Fair, Damien Minton Gallery, Melbourne 2008 Blake Prize, National Art School Gallery, Sydney Records 2014 The Luxury of Wasted Space, Holidays On Ice, LP 2009 Pillage Before Plunder, Holidays On Ice, LP 2005 Playing Boyfriends & Girlfriends, Holidays On Ice, LP 2003 Diplomatic, Dean Manning, LP 2000 Open Sesame, Leonardo’s Bride, LP 1997 Angel Blood, Leonardo’s Bride, LP 1994 Temperamental Friend, Leonardo’s Bride, EP 1992 Debut, Leonardo’s Bride, EP

Collections Artbank Deakin University,Victoria Private collections, Australia, New Zealand and USA Selected Bibliography Goldspink, Sebastian, “An Instantaneous Kinda Chemical Reaction”, Sturgeon, Vol.3 2015 p 22 Jovic, Maja, “Many Faces of Dean’s Art”, Neos Kosmos, July 1, 2014 Tovey, Josephine, “Midgets & Giants”, Sydney Morning Herald, March 2, 2011 Haynes, Leah, “Dean Manning’s Alley”, Art Monthly Vol. 237 p 57. Shadwell, Ian, “Bushrangers of the Mind”, The Art Life, February 25, 2011 Dwyer, Michael, “A Musical Self Portrait”, The Age, August 21, 2009 Hetherington, Sarah, “New Work”, Art World, Vol. 9, July 2009 p 124


The Air is Free: James Fardoulys & Dean Manning Curated by Catherine Benz Exhibition held at Delmar Gallery, Trinity Grammar School, Sydney 3 - 31 July 2016 With thanks to the lenders to the exhibition: Artbank Fardoulys Family Ray Hughes Andrew Baker and private collectors in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Exhibition documentation photography by Silversalt


The Air is Free: James Fardoulys & Dean Manning  

Exhibition held at Delmar Gallery, Sydney, July 2016

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