Artist of the week:Vincenzo Donlini
This week, the Brighton Journal got talking with the talented Vincenzo Donlini, who has been painting for over 50 years. He focuses on local landscapes, such as Madiera Terrace, The Beach and The Level. He would like for people to notice “the overall image and the richness of the paint surface with its jewel-like qualities” in his work.
All images in this feature
© Vincenzo Donlini
After finishing work for Brighton and Hove City Council – where he worked with people who had learning and physical disabilities “enabling artists to produce artworks and find opportunities for exhibiting” – he now paints full time.
If Vincenzo could collaborate with an artist from any time it would be “Frida Khalo – to paint a huge mural mixing Mexico with Brighton.”
What made you want to become an artist?
After reading about Vincent Van Gogh in the Ladybird book of ‘Great Artists’ at the age of twelve I bought some oil paints money I saved from my pocket money. I then got ‘A Concise History of Art from Giotto to Cezanne’ out from the school library and began painting pictures in my mother’s garden in Kent.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on?
I was commissioned to paint a mural with ‘lifers’ at Wormwood Scrubs Prison which was exciting, challenging and rewarding.
How is your art effected by living in Brighton?
moved from London to Brighton in 1999 when I was then painting a series of the Life of Christ. The Pavilion and other buildings were ideal for backdrops for the scenes of Christ.
In about 2008 I began paintings which went back to my roots which was painting the streets where I live this was in the Medway towns in Kent. The first place I painted in Brighton was Kensington Place.
After moving to Brighton I found that there were a large number of artists some of whom I knew from London and Lewes.
I was asked to participate in shows first in Lewes and then in the Artist Open Houses in Brighton where I have shown work off and on since 2000.
What are you currently working on?
I usually work on a number of paintings at the same time. Presently I’m working on the Saint David’s Day Parade in Wales and whilst in Brighton I am working on two Triptychs – view from my North Laine roof terrace and a Triptych of Madeira Terrace, a percentage of the sale of this work will go to ‘Save Madeira Terrace Restoration Fund’ – currently they receive a percentage of sales of my ‘Madeira Terrace’ Mugs.
What are the key themes in your work?
Buildings and gardens appearing frequently – ‘Cityscapes’ with or without figures alongside portraits remain my main themes – sometimes with reference to personal, social, religious and political content.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
Oil paint is my first love and just like my old art teacher, Donald Pass said the smell of linseed oil compelled him to paint – I tend to agree with him! Linseed oil causes the drying time to slow down and the paint can be worked into for a day or two afterwards.
What equipment could you not do without?
Apart from canvas, paint, brushes and linseed oil – compressed charcoal, watercolours, white gouache, black ink brushes, watercolour paper and kitchen roll.
Who or what inspires you?
Almost everything I can see around me both inside or out on a street or a field.
What’s your favourite thing do to locally?
Walking along the seafront, eating shellfish from a stall, exploring the more picturesque often less salubrious parts of Brighton in search of subject matter and a meal and a pint with an old friend of mine in Brighton’s ‘Post and Telegraph’.