Frutta is thrilled to present the first solo exhibition in Italy of British painter Dickon Drury. In this new selection of paintings for Frutta, Drury presents a vision of idyllic pastoral splendour.
We are invited to enter this fictional realm through a group of vibrantly coloured oil paintings. It is a land of plenty akin to the Arcadia of Greek Mythology. A pleasant garden unspoiled by the ways of modern civilization. Here we are free to roam through its gently rolling pastures, sh its bountiful seas and eat from its fruit laden trees. During the day, the low-hanging sun illuminates its crystalline waters and jewel-like grasslands, and at night the sky is clear and star spangled. Even the danger of an erupting volcano is tempered by its own rework-like beauty. This liminal world of caravans, shadows and underwater birds can also be thought of in relation to ‘Cockaigne’, fiictional realm of extreme luxury that originated in medieval Europe. Once depicted by Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder it is also referenced in the medieval poem ‘The Land of Cockaigne’:
There are rivers great and fine Of oil and milk, honey and wine; Water’s uses there are few For washing in, and for the view. The fruit is fine beyond all measure Everything is joy and pleasure.
(The Kildare Lyrics, including the Land of Cockaigne)
A modernised revision of the concept of Cockaigne can be found in the lyrics of Harry McClin- tock’s ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’. The song depicts a hobo’s idea of paradise where there is ‘a lake of stew and of whiskey too’ and where ‘the hens lay soft-boiled eggs.’ These themes of idealism run through a great deal of English folk and American blues music, and the title of the exhibition ‘If the sea was whiskey’ is taken from the 1947 track of the same name by Willie Dixon. Lyrically sparse, the crux of the song declares:
If the sea was whiskey and I was a diving duck If the sea was whiskey and I was a diving duck I’d dive to the bottom and I don’t know if I’d come up
(If the sea was whiskey, Willie Dixon)