Product photographer Adelio Zeelie. An auction to honour one of South Africa’s great artists.
Product photography is not really something you can put in a box. The variation of what is called a product is as wide as the galaxy.
But one of my favourite products to photograph as a product photographer is art. Some might not even see it as a product, but if you sell and buy it – it is a product. For me, the difference is between a dead product and a life product. Art is a life product. It tells a story. It takes you into another world, time and space. And if you look at it long enough, you can see it breathing.
Zeelie mastered the art of “taking you there”. I thoroughly enjoyed photographing his artwork.
The A-to-Z artist – Product photographer Adelio Zeelie
Posted on November 23, 2018 by Yasmeen
Great but virtually forgotten
The Auctioneers honoured one of South Africa’s great artists and decorators with the staging of The A-to-Z Artist. And it was a retrospective exhibition of the work of Adelio Zagni Zeelie.
It was an auction of 40 of the multi-skilled artist’s paintings with his personal furniture. Mouldings and artefacts was also on offer.
Zeelie Adelio Zagni
Zeeliewas born Adelio Zagni in 1911. He painted in South Africa as “AZ Zeelie” and in Italy, under his family name, Zagni.
The A-to-Z Artist retrospective has been curated by his life-long friend, Guntram Jussel because Zeelie had mentored and steered him into a career in fine Italianite interior and furniture decoration.
Brera Academy, Milan
Zeelie, who died in 1991, studied fine art at the Brera Academy in Milan. Mural painting was part of his studies. And he learnt restoring, gilding and furniture painting in Venetian and Florentine style in the Zagni family business in Merate, near Milan.
Decorated and gilded furniture
The family was involved in a post-World War II restoration of the La Scala Opera House in Milan. After settling in South Africa, Zeelie pioneered and became a master of painted, decorated and gilded furniture. Also of murals and Trompe l’Oeil paintings. Also the restoration of painted and gilded antiques, and also produced acclaimed canvas oil paintings.
Summer Place Hyde Park
He collaborated with interior designer Imrie Lorencz on projects. That included the interiors of Summer Place in Hyde Park. It was once the meeting place of the rich and today a conference centre.
Zeelie’s last high-profile work on walls and ceilings was in 1984, for The Lion House in Kensington, Johannesburg. The house was meticulously restored by its new owners, the McBride family.
They engaged Zeelie to restore the historic house back to its original splendour. It was originally built in 1909 by George Wallocott, an early master decorator of stucco work.
The Lion House is now a national monument and national heritage site.
Highlight – Madonna and Child
One of the highlights of the retrospective was the Madonna and Child. An Italian Gothic-inspired 1955-painting in the classic Gesso gilding technique and an Oriental inspired cocktail cabinet with Zeelie’s diverse Venitian talents on show in both art and decoration.