FitzGerald is fascinated by manifestations of extravagant luxury from all periods of history. Designed as a summer retreat for Peter III of Portugal and completed in 1790, the palace of Queluz is an example of the unrestrained Rococo style favoured by the Portuguese nobility of the time, made newly prosperous by the recent discovery of gold in Brazil.
Here, FitzGerald has worked in the trompe-l’œil tradition, but using an entirely new technique: “After completing the computer work, the linear information is printed out, in reverse, on three foot-wide [1m.] strips of acetate, with a photostatic printer. A thick layer of acrylic medium is applied to the gessoed canvas, and while still wet the strips of acetate are laid down, with the ink/toner side down, and the air bubbles are smoothed out as much as possible the air that can’t be removed comes together while drying to form the long ‘scars’ that are visible on the surface. After the acrylic medium has cured, the acetate is peeled off – if successful, most of the ink/toner has come away from the acetate and is embedded in the acrylic medium on the canvas. Using the lines as reference, a thin bead of acrylic caulking is used to describe the areas that are to be filled in with paint once dry, they generally provide enough of a barrier to contain the poured paint, which is artist-quality acrylics mixed with a pouring medium made by Golden.”