“…Eolo Paul Bottaro express a fascination with lost histories. Whether through theft, fire, or some other inexplicable reason, the history of art is marked by the disappearance of numerous masterpieces and minor works that throughout centuries have simply vanished. We now are only aware of their existence through remaining fragments of drawings, or reproductive engravings and woodcuts that were once the sole medium in which contemporary art was visually disseminated. In a series of works that frame a kind of conceptual art historical archaeology, Bottaro is compelled to bring these lost works back into existence through reinterpreting their compositions in the creation of his figurative narratives, which are frequently set within Melbourne’s urban environment. In doing so he expresses various shades of human experience and contemporary life through narrative means, while simultaneously engaging with the history of painting – an art-form that in recent times many theorists had pronounced dead, and no longer relevant within the contemporary art spectrum. This impulse is powerfully represented in the major work Peter Robb, M, and the Prickly Pear (2013). In the 1960s the mafia famously stole a Caravaggio nativity painting from a church in Palermo, Sicily. Bottaro chose to reinterpret this composition in a painting of Peter Robb, the author of many books including M which explores the life of Caravaggio. In this fictional collision of past and present, which also includes a representation of Caravaggio himself, alongside Bottaro’s Sicilian grandfather peeling a prickly pear (the cactus fruit which is riddled throughout Sicily) and the artist riding into the composition on the back of a motorbike – Bottaro creates a dynamic allegorical multi-portrait that draws heavily upon his Sicilian cultural heritage, which is perhaps responsible for its dark undercurrent…” – Eolo Paul Bottaro
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