PORTRAIT OF HARMONY
JULIUS’ RAINBOW WORLD
WHEN Federico Medina decided to paint a portrait of a seven year-old boy with Down syndrome, his goal was simple.
The Langford artist was searching the newspaper for inspiration when he chanced upon an article about Western Australian of the Year finalist Catia Malaquias and her son Julius Panetta.
Panetta is the face of Starting with Julius, an organisation which promotes diversity and full inclusion of people with disability, and Medina was drawn to the cause.
Medina said he wanted the painting, which he will submit for the Black Swan portrait prize, to capture Julius’ zest for life and challenge the audience to treat people with Down syndrome as equals.
“With Julius’ portrait, I wanted to celebrate the diversity of the human experience and contribute to breaking down the cultural prejudices and stigma people with disabilities experience,” he said.
“Normally when you are going to do a portrait it’s someone who is a personality, but in this instance it was exactly what I was looking for, to reflect someone who is living with his condition without any frustration. He has a vibrant personality and he’s very friendly, very bright. When I went back with the first sketches, he went ‘that’s me’.”
Medina said he was honoured to have worked on the painting and aided Julius’ cause.
“To represent what the mum is looking for, the idea of having disabled people viewed in a different way, her mission is absolutely great to me. We have to have a better society in which we can live in harmony and more conscious of who we are and what we’re here for,” he said.
“Better than winning (the Black Swan Portrait Award), is being able to contribute to a cause like this.”
Discussions and feedback from Julius about his hobbies and interests helped shape the portrait.
“I talked to him about his favourite colours, his favourite toys, what his favourite sport was and all of those things are part of my painting,” Medina said.
“He told me about the rainbow, not just with the colours separate but blended, which is why I blended the colours (in the portrait).”
Federico Medina with his portrait of Julius Panetta.