Mirka Mora 'Portrait in Chiaroscuro'

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The visual world of Mirka Mora, matriarch of the Melbourne art scene, was fantastical. Creatures - human, animal and hybrid - dance throughout, inspired by Eastern European fairy tales, angels and ancient mythology, as well as Mora’s own fecund imagination – an act of resilience in light of her familys plight during the Second World War. She spent her adolescence hiding between French villages and forests evading capture; her immediate family were condemned to concentration camps.

Portrait is Chiaroscuro is likely a self portrait – a bold, watchful woman fills the frame. The use of charcoal creates drama, while the subject sits in serenity. This was Mora – striking, but warm, her work the triumph of joy against adversity and an attempt to live fully for those unable to.

Mora’s characters spilt out of her. She drew them on dolls, kitchen utensils, trams, walls and ceramics, seeing every surface as an opportunity to create. In this original drawing, they land in charcoal — elegant configurations that are dramatic, cherubic, funny and Shakespearean. Welcome to the court of Mirka Mora.

Beloved by the public and art world, Mora’s joie de vivre enchanted a nation. She was socialite and restaurateur, a party-animal and bohemian whose Cafe Balzac was the first in Melbourne to secure a 10pm liquor licence. Cheers to that and this disarming drawing.

Mirka MORA (1928 - 2018)
'Portrait in Chiaroscuro' 1965
Charcoal on paper
Image Size: 24 x 18 cm
Dimensions: 24 x 18 cm

Condition: Very good

© Mirka Mora / Copyright Agency 2022