Revered artist Hugh Oliveiro believes everything in life displays creativity and it is this view on our world that permeates his work. An enchanted life he may have led, brushing with the rich and famous throughout his artistic career, but he sees it, quite simply, as the life he has lived. And it is his own inspiring view of the world itself that has drawn him through the creative corridors of a charmed life.

Hugh’s naturally enquiring mind and critical eye blossomed as a child growing up in Singapore in the 1950s – a period of migration and mixed cultures in colonised countries.

“It was like living a kaleidoscope existence against a backdrop of diverse cultural imagery, including music, dance and art. This experience created a complex dynamic for me,” he says.

After knocking back his entry into Slade School of Fine Art in London, Hugh came to Australia in 1959 to study art in Sydney, where he continued to grow and develop his career. Hugh gave up working in the commercial world of advertising to concentrate on being a professional artist full-time. He has exhibited with galleries in all the major cities of Australia, with works also in Paris, London, New York, and in regions of the South Pacific.

Since his early childhood years, Hugh’s mind has been driven on a creative course, stimulating the senses, leading to his success in the professional art world, and content in his creative self. Hugh’s belief in a creative society, his passion for art in every day life further inspires his own creative forces.

Art allows Hugh a visual voice for his thoughts, his mind.

“Art surrounds us, if we care to look closely at everything. It literally underpins and shapes a society and more. While change is inevitable, it is not what but how we adapt to it that is most important,” he emphasises.

Hugh’s art isn’t restricted by specific and established styles or methods. He is confident in expressing the fact that he sometimes will encompass several in one painting, and even create new ones if necessary.

Such magical imagery embellishes his art, establishing elements that keep throughout the many beautiful ideas translating through his works.

“I try to avoid the ease of painting by breaking all the rules. In doing so, a tactile chemistry takes place. Hand and eye emotionally react with the mediums used, resulting in fresh visual dimensions. This is when a sense of a personal style is born, this is when an artwork is unique. It doesn’t come easy, but how rewarding when you succeed,” he says.

Hugh says he paints and creates what he feels, rather than what he knows.

“As a favourite visual aesthetic, I embrace the art deco period, especially for the exotic meld of art and design. These, like a kaleidoscope, inspire each painting.”

Adopting strong oriental influences, Hugh says this style has become one of the most established benchmarks in the art world.

“I love it for its principles in geometric design, coupled with classic detailing in the artwork. It is one genre that encompasses total concepts with amazing versatility,” he explains.

Despite his own art education, Hugh explains you cannot intellectualise art:

“You cannot teach art, you can only really nurture creativity,” Hugh suggests.

“An English art critic once said something that I was so pleased to hear: ‘The painter paints the tree, but the artist will paint the wind in the tree.’”

Hugh’s creative passion further brightens when his work is seen, adored, purchased by others, humbling, yet exciting him in his career.

“I think it’s important for the artist to show people they can look at things differently. If you can train yourself to see, because many look but don’t see, you can really enjoy; everything becomes lovely.”

When working, creating, Hugh is transported to another magical world. His view on art is all encompassing, relating to life and the human condition, developing awareness of senses and of being.

“I think sensuality is so important in my work. Creativity appeals to the senses, and the senses in the human being are very delicate.”

Hugh is currently working towards his next exhibition, “Somewhere – A Horse”, which will open at Weswall Gallery, Tamworth, in March, showcasing a collection of more than 25 of his works through a mysterious equestrian theme.

“I’ve taken the aura, the beauty and the majesty of this wonderful beast that’s been the oldest and most noble friend known to humankind – the horse.”

Hugh is moving on from his younger days of city exhibitions and openings, the days of ‘wine and roses’, as he describes. His move to Tamworth in 2012 offered a slower pace, something Hugh is adjusting to and quietly enjoying.

“The Australian landscape is beautiful, rustic, majestic and sensual – suddenly there is a new dynamic and, indeed, a new way to not just look, but see.

“I love it. It is so beautiful here. The pace and the space suits me now – and I hope I can contribute something here.”


Words: SARAH STEELE   Photography: ANTONY HANDS  }