Melbourne artist Mirka Mora, praised as a driving force in Victoria’s arts scene, has died at the age of 90.
Mora and her husband Georges lived through the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe, and arrived in Melbourne from Paris in 1951 where they helped transform the city into the “creative and cosmopolitan city is today”, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
In a career spanning more than six decades, Mora’s works included painting, ceramics and even doll-making. Her creations are held in galleries across Australia and around the world.
Mr Andrews praised her as a “driving force” in Victoria’s arts scene, and as someone who “drenched our city and our state with colour”.
Mora opened a cafe in 1954 and launched two other restaurants including Tolarno in St Kilda where her work is featured today.
Her pieces are also featured at Flinders Street Station and the St Kilda Pier.
“Brave, funny, irreverent and talented, Mirka was an icon of our city and state,” Mr Andrews said.
She had about 35 solo exhibitions since 1956, including a retrospective at the Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2003.
In 2016, a lost mural by Mora was uncovered in excellent condition by the owners of the former Cafe Balzac — the cafe Mora and her husband had started after emigrating from France — in East Melbourne while it was undergoing renovations.
The two-metre wide work featured black and white charcoal on paint of people embracing animals.
‘You have to grab invisible things and make them visible’
In an interview with the ABC in 2014, Mora was asked how she started a painting.
Tweet Rebecca Bartel Vale darling #MirkaMora
“It’s a total mystery to me. I have no idea what I will do. You don’t decide. If you decide it’s not art,” she said.
“Other people like to paint when they’re unhappy but I’m not because I’m depending on my brain and my brain must be clear and beautiful.
“I like to be on my own because you have to grab invisible things and make them visible.
“It’s weird isn’t it. It’s very strange. The voice comes out of my mouth and the drawing comes out of my hand, my brush.”
When asked how she knew when a painting was finished, Mora said:
“When it’s happy. When I’m happy. When everything is still on the painting. Nothing screams out. Everything is tranquil.
“I’m a natural painter.”