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Soffritto di Lucio, 2009

Garry Shead and Adrienne Levenson

oil on linen (frame: 188.7 cm x 203.6 cm, support: 183.3 cm x 198.2 cm)

Lucio Galletto OAM was born into a family of farmers and restaurateurs in north-west Italy. As an architecture student, he met a visiting Australian girl; in 1975 he moved to Sydney to be with her. In 1981, they set up Lucio’s, in Balmain. Two years later they moved to their current premises, Lucio’s in Paddington, in which they have established one of Australia’s most-awarded Italian restaurants, as renowned for its art as for its food (in a European tradition, they have offered artists meals in exchange for their productions, and major artworks line the restaurant’s walls). Galletto’s books include The Art of Food at Lucio’s (1999) with contributions from Robert Hughes and John Olsen; Soffritto: A delicious Ligurian memoir (2007), written by David Dale; Lucio’s Ligurian Kitchen (2010) with David Dale; and The Art of Pasta (2011), with David Dale and artwork by Luke Scibberas.

Garry Shead (b. 1942) studied at the National Art School in 1961–62. With Martin Sharp, Jon Firth Smith and Ian van Wieringen he edited The Arty Wild Oat and published cartoons in the Oz, the Bulletin, the Sydney Morning Herald, and Honi Soit. Shead’s first solo exhibitions were at the Watters Gallery in Sydney in 1966; he has had numerous solo exhibitions since. He won the Archibald Prize in 1993 for his portrait of an old friend, Sydney publisher Tom Thompson. Shead has said of Galletto, ‘he just makes you feel so welcome … he treats everyone like family and makes them feel special.’ A ‘soffritto’ is a combination of ingredients providing the flavoursome base upon which an Italian dish is built. Shead explains that in this ‘combination’ portrait, he has set the restaurateur against a panorama of the village of Ameglia, in the area in which he grew up (depictions of Dante and Beatrice in the background refer to the fact that Dante wrote part of his Divine Comedy in Ameglia). In his arms Galletto is holding an image of the Last Supper. The Christ figure is also a reference to DH Lawrence (subject of a major series of Shead’s paintings) who spent time in Lerici, nearby, in 1914. Shead and his partner, Adrienne Levenson, collaborated on a mosaic rendering of one of Shead’s pictures of DH Lawrence and Frieda in 2009. As the deadline for Archibald entries approached, Shead had still not resolved problems he had been having with his sitter’s face. Levenson helped; and ‘suddenly there he was’ Shead says. The work became the sixteenth picture of Shead’s to be hung in the Archibald. In due course, it was offered to the Gallery because Galletto had run out of room on his walls.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Lucio Galletto OAM
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2012

Accession number: 2012.51

Currently not on display

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