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Aldo Iacobelli, painter and draughtsman, was born in Naples, Italy, in 1950 and emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia, with his family at 16 years of age. After a three-year stint as a pipe welder in outback Australia, he returned to Adelaide to pursue a career in art, securing a studio space in the city in which he could work. In 1972, he married Deborah Lemon and they moved to New South Wales in 1974. During this time, Iacobelli studied Painting and Drawing part-time at East Sydney Technical College of the Arts, returning to Adelaide in 1975 where he joined the Royal South Australian Society of Arts (RSASA). Under the direction of Mal Carbins and Stewart Game through the RSASA Tutorial Programme, as well as classes undertaken with Jacqueline Hick, Iacobelli gained further experience in painting, becoming an associate of the organisation in 1981. In the following year he received his Arts and Crafts Certificate from the North Adelaide School of Art, which he had been working toward since 1980.

Iacobelli successfully applied to the South Australian School of Art (SASA) in 1981, where he spent four years studying to attain a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art), which he received in 1985. Based at the school’s Underdale premises just west of the city, Iacobelli trained under lecturers Ian Chandler and George Popperwell.

Iacobelli’s work cannot be defined in terms of a singular style, however, consistencies in concepts, processes, application and themes do thread their way throughout the artist’s broad oeuvre. His work is informed by political, religious and socio-cultural concerns such as agendas, traditions and rituals, childhood memories, behavioural obsessions, notions of ‘outsider’ and superficiality in its various forms. Furthermore, Iacobelli considers art historical notions such as the critical discourse of painting and its connections to architecture, gesture and time honoured production, pattern, ornament and decoration. Each of these aspects appears at different and at times overlapping stages in his career.

During 1990, as part of his Still life series, Iacobelli installed fourteen paintings into Adelaide’s St. Peter’s Cathedral. Stations of the Cross comprised seemingly blank white-painted canvases supported by black wooden crosses, extending the two side aisles of the prominent neo-gothic cathedral. Each of the canvases was heavily textured and in certain light, displayed a crown of thorns image. Displayed within the physical confines of a religious space, Iacobelli challenged notions of production by offering works that appeared uniform but were in fact unique, simultaneously commenting on individual perceptions of spirituality, despite the umbrella notions of religion as homogenising individual belief.

The series Paintings in oils, first shown at ARCO ’93, then exhibited at Greenaway Art Gallery later that year and acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia through a South Australian Government Grant in 1993, literally preserve the artist’s thinking processes, but also served to comment on the hierarchical nature of fine art as neatly stretched, oil painted canvases.

Since 1987, Iacobelli has received several South Australian Project Grants as well as a number of Grants from Australia Council’s Visual Arts/Craft Board. In 1987, he was Artist-in-Residence at the Townsville College of TAFE, Queensland, and in 1991 received a Studio Residency through the Australia Council, which based him in Barcelona, Spain. In addition to the Grants and Residencies, Iacobelli was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Achievement in Drawing at the International Art Competition, New York, 1988, and in 2003, an Arts SA Fellowship.

Since Iacobelli’s first group exhibition at RSASA’s Kintore Gallery in 1984, he has exhibited in more than 100 group exhibitions. Many have taken place in Australia, but also overseas, including Spain and Switzerland. In terms of solo exhibitions, Iacobelli’s first was at Harrington Gallery, Adelaide, in 1985. Throughout the 1990s he showed almost annually at ARCO – International Contemporary Art, Madrid, Spain, and he has exhibited consistently with Tomas March Gallery in Valencia, also in Spain, since 1996.

At various stages in his career, the artist has lectured at both the North Adelaide School of Art and the South Australian School of Art. Between the years 1995 and 1999, Iacobelli relocated to the small town of Chiva in Valencia, Spain, with his wife and two children. Following this period, Iacobelli divided his living and working between Spain and Australia.

Iacobelli’s work is represented in many collections in Australia including: the Australian National Gallery; Phillip Morris Collection; Workcover Corporation; Art Gallery of South Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Artbank, Sydney; South Australian Museum; Riddoch Art Gallery, South Australia; Office of the Premier of New South Wales; TAFE and University collections. His work is also represented in several collections in Spain.


Olivia Bolton
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