Artistic journey continues in inclusive exhibition

Aaron Deans with his artwork now on display in this year's IAN exhibition. (Supplied)

By Luke Voogt

A scene of brooding thunderclouds looming above Capitol Hill marks the latest step in Aaron Deans’ lifelong artistic journey.

“My art used to be all scribbly, now I’m more talented,” the 26-year-old said.

“It feels great to show the whole world my talent and gift.”

The Clifton Springs local is exhibiting the piece in the sixth annual Inclusive Arts Network (IAN) exhibition, which runs at East Geelong’s Rachinger Gallery until October 31.

Inspired by everything from thunderstorms, books and trees, to power plants, oil refineries and even real estate ads, Deans started drawing when he “was very small”.

“Drawing’s always been a favourite activity of mine – I did it at camp, I did it my nan’s house when she was alive,” he said.

Illustrations, drawings and photos brought focus and meaning into his life, calming him and nurturing his imaginative strengths.

“I just keep going, I don’t stop,” he said.

But he decided take his art “more seriously” about a year ago following a suggestion from disability services provider genU.

His signature style focuses on minute detail in architectural and industrial structures.

Often superimposed against turbulent and threatening skyscapes, he features complex designs of power stations or historical buildings of significance.

Deans uses fine liners and grey leads to create dramatic, artistic moods in his works, which have earned him several accolades and art prizes.

He developed the style with help from genU Eastern Hub art teacher Gosia Reflinski.

“She’s such a great support and help,” he said.

“She’s almost like a second mum. I’m so grateful for all that she does.”

In his latest piece, a thunderstorm looms above a famous US government building as mother nature prepares to unleash a reckoning on President Donald Trump and his administration.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Deans said. “I can’t stand him.”

The IAN exhibition features a diverse and eclectic collection of work by artists with disabilities or mental health issues from across Victoria.

Among this year’s other highlights are Chelle Destefano’s Sleeping Taxi and the Dogs and Michelle Loschiavo’s hyperreal wildlife portraits, according to organiser Donald Harvey.

Harvey said this year’s exhibition was open-themed to enable artists to choose their subject and medium without limits on their expression.

“IAN believes that the artistic aspirations and achievements of people with disability are important for the processing of events,” he said.

“The expression of feelings and concepts are a fundamental part of community identity.”

The artworks range include paintings, prints, collages, sculptures, imagery including portraitures, real and imaginary creatures, abstract works and landscapes – real and fantastic.

The exhibition includes artists from Arthur Creative Services, ArtGusto, Creative Community Studios Bendigo and genU’s Geelong studios and gallery.