Saverio Lucci's contemporary portraits go on show in Hong Kong

Multi-talented Italian finds colour and spirituality in Asia which transmit to his paintings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 September, 2015, 5:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 September, 2015, 10:15am

Artist Saverio Lucci has a different feeling when painting scenes in Asia compared to depicting scenes of Italy, his home country. “Italy means passion – travelling to Venice, Florence, seeing the artworks and galleries of Renaissance painters is inspiring. The landscape, the streets and towns – even the scents are inspiring,” says the 60-year-old artist. “But Asia means colour and a sense of spirituality that is transmitted to my paintings. You aren’t born with one painting style and carry that on for your whole life.”

Lucci is in Hong Kong for his exhibition “Modern Italian Master”, on at Fabrik Gallery in Sheung Wan until October 23. The show features  contemporary portraits of Asian and European women. And while details such as the historical settings and garments change, the feel of the portraits – romantic, calm and beautiful – remains the same.

Not only an artist, Lucci is also an interior decorator, theatre and furniture designer. His commissions have including designing royal palaces in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. He is also an art restorer, and counts the Kremlin in Moscow among his clients.

An avid student of art history and the methods used by the old masters, Lucci started painting when he was five “when I first did my first figurative work”.

“I have a sense for detail and picked up images from books, cartoons and my environment. I developed the drawing technique from school and my private painting teacher. I focused on the images and tried to make them  perfect. Images became my form of communication with people.

"The first painting I sold was of Jesus Christ ... I did it for a village exhibition, I was 12. At 13, my paintings were exhibited at a monastery, two won an international competition. My family doctor was an art collector, and he also bought some of my paintings.

"I read a lot of books about the master artists such as Michelangelo when I was a teenager. Lucky for me my parents are friends with [Italian portrait and fresco painter] Pietro Annigoni, who painted a portrait for Queen Elizabeth,” says Lucci, who uses the Renaissance technique of encausto in many of his portraits, a technique that involves the delicate application of many layers of bees wax, alternating with oil paint, to produce a rich and vibrant patina.

He said the Annigoni connection helped with new techniques and also inspired him. “As I got older, I studied product design but travelled a lot visiting galleries and museums … the Renaissance style always inspired me. Through my experience in travelling and observation, I’ve developed my own style for painting.”

A feature of Lucci’s Hong Kong visit is the unveiling of a portrait  of Hong Kong model Jocelyn Luko-Sandstrom that will be exhibited at the Asia Contemporary Art Show from October 8-11.

Modern Italian Master by Saverio Lucci, until October 23, Fabrik Gallery, 1102 Nam Wo Hong Building, 148 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan. Tel: 2525 4911