Brisbane artist Rick Everingham is in the business of taking us on holiday without leaving home. He is particularly renowned for his enticing paintings of Italy where he and his wife Desley have lived and travelled on and off for decades.

Many art lovers in Brisbane and beyond have exquisite renderings of scenery from Venice, Florence and elsewhere on their walls, thanks to Everingham. His latest exhibition at Graydon Gallery in New Farm continues the tradition.

“I am calling this exhibition Italia,” Everingham says. “It has been 33 years since my initial Italia exhibition and this one is marking somewhat of an end to an era.  We have sold our apartment in Tuscany and following this show we are off to Italy to sign the contract. But I am not planning on ending my Italian works, and we still want to keep in contact with our Italian friends.

“This show is still mainly Italian subject material, with a few others included.  My usual fare.  At the end of last year, I had a couple of studies of kids at the beach that did not get finished, so I began this year finishing them, and adding a few others.

“I then started on some work I wanted to do from last year’s Italian visit, paintings from Venice, Rome, Pisa and other places.

“Lately, I have also finished two larger works of the rocks in Girraween National Park.  I have done several paintings from there over the years, and I really like the mysterious energy of the place.  They are a bit more sombre than the Italian paintings, but I think really reflect the feel of the place.”

Reflecting the feel of a place is what Everingham does so well. Time and place are his themes.

“Wherever I go I find certain images, or certain situations, or subtleties, or colours that strongly appeal to me,” he says. “I see wonderful connections between these things, and they seem to have a resonance with something inside me. That produces a special feeling and I find great satisfaction in trying to express this feeling in my work.

“I am intrigued by the physical appearance of places, and their patina of history, but I also try to express the subtleties of my experience of being there. I believe it is possible to view life in a way that makes it positive and full of joy.

“The world is a truly magical place where all things are somehow connected, and my paintings are my experience of that connection. I like to create works that remind me that simple beauty is still in existence, wherever I choose to find it.

“The aim of my painting is simply to communicate these feelings to others as clearly as possible.”

Everingham is a Sydney-sider originally, although he moved to Brisbane in 1968 and established himself as a successful and respected artist here. A painting trip to Italy in 1991 brought about a major shift in focus and change in subject matter.

Annual trips to Italy and visits to Greece and France fuelled his passion for finding different subjects, and he has produced a body of works that capture the very essence of these unique places.

In 1999, Everingham and Desley purchased a house in a small town in Tuscany to enable them to get closer to his subject matter and immerse themselves in the Italian culture. For the past 25 years the couple has visited Italy regularly and the results are always compelling.

But be warned – his latest show might make you book a holiday to Italy sooner rather than later.

Italia: Rick Everingham, Graydon Gallery, New Farm, May 17 until June 2.

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