'OPUS' an exhibition inspired by music by Elio Sanciolo currently showing at Gallery Elysium 440-444 Burwood Rd Hawthorn, 3122

Published by: Gallery Elysium | 13-Mar-2023
The following is an artist statement by Melbourne Artist Elio Sanciolo on his latest exhibition entitled 'OPUS' which is based on the artist's investigation of the structure and experience of music.
OPUS - Gallery Elysium
Request Image Contact: elio@galleryelysium.com.au
Image Copyright / CDN: Elio sanciolo
'EROICA' Oil on Canvas 185cm x 185cm -Elio Sanciolo

Artist Statement


As the title suggests, this exhibition is based on music. As a painter I have always been fascinated by music. My childhood was full of it. My parents blessed me with musical experiences that have ingrained themselves so deeply in my mind and heart that I cannot remember a time when music was not present.

Music is, in many ways, the supreme artform as it transcends culture, language, subject-matter and the need to objectively represent something for it to be understood, appreciated, and felt.

In of itself, the use of music by visual artists in creating their work is not an original idea. Many visual artists, have at some stage, found the urge to refer to or comment on music as a source of inspiration and emotional release in their work.

So why did I choose music as a general theme for the current exhibition? To answer this, I will need to briefly refer to my previous ‘Future Memories’ show which dealt with our understanding of time and its relation to our perception and understanding of the world.

In preparation for that exhibition, I came across philosophical and scientific writings on the nature of Time and consciousness which postulated that all actions/events exist simultaneously and are only perceived to be sequentially and causally ordered in time by the limitations of our conscious mind, which somehow, filters through and organizes matter and events in a hierarchical sequential fashion to make sense of the world.

In response to this theory, I sought to develop a visual language which would help me communicate this idea in an intelligible way. I ended up creating a series of works on canvas depicting the human form and other figurative elements on overlapping transparent pages signifying slices of temporal experience represented by rectilinear divisions on the picture plane. This pictorial device allowed for the construction and reading of an image on a metaphorical basis.

It wasn’t long after my exhibition was over that I was looking at a score of a Beethoven symphony, and I was struck with the notion that musical compositions that involve two or more instruments could be viewed as a natural extension of the original insights which drove the creation of the works in my previous show.


Just like our perception of ‘reality’, symphonic scores, or multi-instrumental musical pieces, are constructed of different layers. These layers consist of the diffe

This is achieved by superimposing, coordinating, and playing each separate instrumental part over the others with related time signatures so that the resulting sound follows a consistent logic and ‘narrative’.

Another interesting observation I made, was that the conventions used in the recording of musical concepts onto a physical score force the composer to conceive of the composition as a series of separate elements tied to an original foundational melodic or rhythmical idea. These are then brought together in real time by the performers in one unified expression of sound, to be finally interpreted by the listener.

In other words, to effectively communicate ideas to the performers, and through them eliciting an emotional response in the audience, the composer has no choice but to dissect the original musical idea into a myriad of separate parts, each highlighting a different aspect of the subject at the heart of the music, and then have the musicians reintegrate them into a new multifaceted whole so that the audience can absorb, interpret, and appreciate the totality of the music.


With this in mind, I approached the creation of a series of works in this current exhibition in the same way as a composer would approach the construction of a symphonic score. Layer by layer and free of the restrictions imposed by the need to produce an overly literal interpretation of the subject but keeping the overall aesthetic integrity intact.

To achieve this, I resolved to use only simple figurative components consisting of the human form and landscape elements as compositional devices designed to centre the composition and give the viewer a way into exploring the images embedded in the various layers of the painting.

I approached this in much the same way as a composer may use a melodic line to draw the listener emotionally into the music. The figurative elements were going to be my melody and use of color and line used to set the rhythm.

Each individual work in this exhibition was initially inspired by my personal response to a given piece of music and then allowed to develop in its own organic direction. Their titles not only indicating the original source of inspiration for the piece, but more important than literally trying to describe it, trying to communicate the sense and feel of it.

As I progressed from painting to painting, and depending on the original musical source, I found that the figurative elements in some works would dissolve into the overall design or be totally subdued by areas of color to the point where they would only leave a trace of their original imprint, thereby giving the impression from a distance of a total abstraction. An abstraction that when closely inspected, revealed its figurative origins so that the viewer’s gaze is forced to move from the surface through the various layers of the painting to the drawing underneath and then back to the surface.

I attempted, through simultaneously emphasizing both opposite abstract and figurative qualities, to create a harmonious tension between literal meaning and metaphoric interpretation, which to my mind, approximates how music itself works and is able to satisfy the rational mind whilst imbedding itself in the heart.

Finally, it’s my sincere hope that visitors to my exhibition will leave with a sense of joy and a feeling as though they have just attended a musical performance, or at the very least, have been motivated to explore some of the composers that inspired me in the creation of this exhibition.

Elio Sanciolo
March, 2023.

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