"There is something wonderful about Andrew Antoniou's pictures that never wears out for me. Paintings I have lived with for years are as alive to me now as when I first saw them. A curtain seems newly raised on a sequence of intense dramatic action. Either something momentous is about to happen, or something momentous has recently happened and is forever being lived out in the fullness of life.
Look at these pictures in the morning, they have the rippling quality of a dream. Look at the same pictures after the day is over and they give mature meaning to waking reality. Our lives, after all, conform to a pattern, the shape of myth and story."
Roger McDonald. Author of ' Ballad Of Desmond Kale ' Miles Franklin winner 2006
work belongs to the tradition of Hieronymous Bosch (1460-1516), William Blake
(1757-1827) and Max Beckmann (1884-1950) and the Scot, John Bellany (b.1942),
who taught him at the Winchester School of Art, before he emigrated to
Australia. Where Bellany’s art addresses the overbearing religiosity of fishing
communities like that of Port Seton, near Edinburgh where he grew up – born of
primal issues of survival in the elements, Antoniou’s work possesses a
sensibility more attuned to Lewis Carroll’s, (1832-1898) Alice’s Adventures
in Wonderland, where nonsensical
events take place, or the puppet theatres of middle Europe. Like Bellany,
however, Antoniou peoples his curious world with composite creatures, part
human, part animal with a toy-maker’s quality. A cut out, clockwork style
figure is, however, given the sculptural quality of Ferdinand Léger. No single
source can be attributed to this, the creation of a surreal and theatrical
place. The etchings: Light Fantastic (2009) and Music of Madness (2009) refer to the apparent chaos of personal lives, to unexpected and fearful episodes, to the
timeless nature of the cycles of life and death. Emotional rebirth as a
continuation of loss is in this body of work quietly celebrated.
Andrew Antoniou has been described as an
etcher and draughtsman who also paints. “As an image maker he thinks as a
printmaker, always working from a matrix and constantly layering his images. He
is also an artist who enjoys a sense of grand scale and who is able to instil a
grandeur and monumentality into his slightly absurd creations.
The charcoal drawings are perhaps his
most satisfying images, not only for the quality of the draughtsmanship, and
the well-orchestrated dynamism of the picture plane, but in the range achieved
from the simple medium. The sculptural quality achieved in the figures and the
energy infused into each is varied and masterly. The velvety blacks in the
charcoal can also be found in the etchings. The energy achieved in both
etchings and drawn images enables Antoniou to present an original message.
Janet Mckenzie Spens. Sub-editor Studio International 2011
"Antoniou works from his imagination and " makes no distinction between things remembered and things dreamt". the exploits of his characters, however, are not to be found in any play you will ever see. New Arrival features a man riding a peacock serving ice cream to a cast of characters , including a cat-headed man , an aviator complete with plane , a woman in a teapot and a howling dog. These are complex , highly detailed works, a collage of of ideas drawn from all aspects of the artist's life. His influences are wide from the written works of Carl Jung, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, to the artistic output of Francisco Goya , Max Beckmann and Pablo Picasso.
In addition to these external influences , Antoniou responds to personal events such as moving house or the death of a loved one. These influences appear in Antoniou's drawings, but not usually in their literal form. He believes that " most of the things that happen in our lives have much greater meaning than we really understand" and he tends towards a language of symbols to synthesise the influences in a different guise.
In spite of the unfamiliar settings and strange characters populating the art works, we recognise the depth of emotion present. There are intimations of fear, sadness and loss but also of friendship, seduction and exhuberance."
Bridget Macleod . Artists Profile June 2011
"Antoniou's early passion for the theatre shines through in his recent exhibition. Using the planned uncertainty of etching and dry
point, he continues his exploration of the figure in relationship to theatrical settings. Inspired by Beckman, Picasso and Goya,
Antoniou maps his personal experiences in narrative landscapes of the interior, that are both playful and profound."
Marama Warren, Imprint Magazine - Autumn 2004