Italy: Artist inspired by trip to Sorrento in new exhibit

Rome: This spring Duncan artist Donovan Rose travelled to southern Italy to visit the place his hometown was named after and gather material for his next exhibition.

During the two-week trip in April, Rose, raised in Sorrento, B.C., spent four days in coastal Sorrento, Italy just south of Naples. There he got engaged to his fiancée, fellow artist Barclay Martin, and took a lot of photos and made drawings to take back to his studio.

“Basically as soon as we got back I was able to start working on them straight away,” he said of the body of work he has since created. “And I’ve been working all the way up until this week.”

Rose will unveil those portrait and landscape paintings at Gallery Merrick on Friday, Sept. 13 and they will remain in the gallery until Sept. 20. The show is called La Dolce Cabana, a play on the Italian fashion company Dolce and Gabbana meaning “the sweet cabana.” Rose said it’s the third installment in a series of paintings which he started in 2017 based on family photos from Shuswap Lake.

“The way that I’m thinking about it is like the Dolce Cabana is kind of an imagined place, so one part of it being Sorrento, B.C. and the other part being southern Italy. So merging the two places where I grew up and where it was named for,” he explained. “And then the Dolce Cabana, the sweet cabin, is kind of a cross-reference between the cabin which we grew up going to in Sorrento on the lake in B.C., and then the beach huts, the cabanas, which used to be fairly common on the southern beaches of Italian resorts.”

In October 2018 Rose displayed the second phase of his Shuswap family photos-inspired series at Gallery Merrick. At that time he started incorporating tropical themes into those images without knowing his next stop would be the Mediterranean shore.

“The very beginnings of that work I showed here at the Ou Gallery in Duncan and so those were all direct representations of the photographs that I had of my family on the Shuswap,” he said. “And then it slowly just evolved to this mid-ground of Canadian landscape versus tropical landscape and then now it’s become fully the Italian landscape.”

Rose said he thought his series was over after the second installment and would like to say this third collection is the conclusion, but added that memories from his past always find a way into his art.

“Being super nostalgic, the Shuswap Lake and Sorrento B.C. is a massive part of my life, just in my upbringing, and I think it will always leak into the paintings, somehow,” he said.