The impending arrival of Greek summer 2021 combined with seemingly relentless travel restrictions, has had many of us dreaming and reminiscing about our days of yore spent in Greece.
In the case of leading contemporary Greek Australian artist, Felicia Aroney, it had her painting.
Felicia was born and grew up in Perth, Western Australia, where her family held their Greek heritage dear.
“My life had a lot to do with my grandparents; learning the Greek culture and heritage from them,” says Felicia.
“My grandfather exposed us to the garden, he had a vineyard and olive trees, almond trees that Perth’s climate – similar to that of Greece’s – allowed.
“With my maternal grandmother, we connected spiritually, we talked philosophy and religion, and I picked up Greek cooking from her.”
Currently based in Sydney, immersing herself into her art provided Felicia with an escape of sorts, during times of isolation and lockdown at the peak of the pandemic in Australia.
Throughout these long days, filled with the angst of missing family and her regular trips back to her native homeland of Greece, painting helped Felicia to disconnect from a somewhat painful present.
Burying herself in her work allowed Felicia to instead project forward into dreams of better days in the future, as well as to connect more deeply with the past, and in doing so, with her family in Perth that she was missing so terribly.
For Felicia, her renowned artistic creations have always been an implicit expression of what lies within.
Her previous collections, focusing on elegant florals such a hydrangeas and cherry blossoms, have been much celebrated over the years, resulting in collaborations with the likes of home décor heavies such as Designer Rugs and Lavendar Hill as well as with makeup guru, fellow Greek-Australian Napoleon Perdis.
However, to paint a blossom or a hydrangea at a time, when missing family was forefront, to Felicia did not make any sense.
“I really think that we regressed back to our roots and felt closer to our origins,” says Felicia of that uncertain time last year when COVID was at its worst in in Australia.
It was during this period, that Felicia spent celebrating all that her past held whilst also crying out for the familiarity that she was so craving, that a new, very emotive and sentimental body of abstract works was born, quite different to any of her previous collections.
Felicia’s works of art can best be described as textured mixed media, her abstracted strokes forming wonderful creations that are open to an interpretation limited only by the imagination of the beholder.
Felicia believes that her ‘tactile-ness’ is a talent that she inherited from her grandparents – in fact, she compares her art technique to that of her yiayia’s cooking.
Felicia remembers her yiayia, with great precision, stirring large pots of spinach and fetta to make filling for scrolled pites, before kneading mammoth amounts of homemade pastry over a large table.
Felicia would watch as her grandmother would use a big palette knife to scoop and spread the textured filling mixture over the pastry with music ever present in the background.
“I think that I enjoyed the environment so much in yiayia’s kitchen, that I simply modified it to suit my own creative needs,” says Felicia about her present day art studio.
Perhaps that is why whilst in her studio Felicia says that feels most connected to her late grandparents.
It is in her studio that still talks to them the most and feels the very same comfort and safety she felt as a child in her yiayia’s kitchen.
Felicia believes that her greatest influence as an artist is the time she spent in Greece, elements of which are demonstrated in her work today.
“The antiquity of aged buildings and the unsteady cobble paths that roped small residences together appealed to me.
“It has greatly influenced my technique. I use a palette knife applying thick layers of paint that dance off the canvas, recreating my childhood images of historic aged timeless beauty,” says Felicia.
In her paintings from last year’s abstract collection, Felicia recognises elements observed over her family visits to Greece – the Mediterranean turquoises and movement of the Aegean Sea in some; or the connectivity laughter, music and dancing reminiscent of a village panegyria in other works.
“These works came from a place of feelings and memories – it was a joy reaching far away places in my soul,” says Felicia, who has missed her yearly trips to her beloved Greece since the onset of the global pandemic.
After receiving accolades for her Greek-inspired abstracts of the past year, Felicia Aroney has already produced a new and different collection of works.
Her next exhibition ‘NORDIC’ will be showing at Aroney Art Gallery from 28th May and is described as being influenced by Nordic design and lifestyle.
Felicia Aroney has a strong presence in the art world and her work has been shown in galleries and art fairs all around the world. She is represented by seven Australian Art galleries. She has had many successful solo and group shows in Australia as well as shows in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul and Florence. Felicia has been a finalist in the prestigious Mosman Art Prize and Hornsby Art Prize.
All images by Nick Bourdaniotis/ Bourdo Photography, exclusively for Greek City Times (copyright).
Felicia Aroney’s next exhibition:
An exhibition influenced by Nordic design and lifestyle
Aroney Art Gallery
Shop 6, 49 Bay St Double Bay NSW
(entrance Knox Lane)
Monday – Saturday
10am – 3pm