Event Details


04/08/2017 - 22/09/2017 08:25 - 12:45

In July-August of 2016, by invitation of the Ministry of Culture of China and recommendation of Arts Council Malta, Spazju Kreattiv and Art Discussion Group, the China Cultural Centre selected five highly accomplished Maltese artists (Catherine Cavallo- painter; Alex Attard -Photographer, Antoine Farrugia-sculptor; Darren Tanti-painter and Simon Barthet-painter) to visit Beijing and Henan Province, as part of the CCC`s annual China Creative Art Project titled Inspired in China.

China Cultural Centre in Malta invited the aforementioned artists to hold an itinerant exhibition titled Inspired in China - Fine Art Exhibition by Maltese Artists.

Inspired in China (2016 edition) exhibition tour route 2016-2017: CCC, Valletta - SkyParks, MIA - Cavalieri Art Hotel, St Julians - Parliament of Malta, Valletta, Ministry for Gozo, Victoria, Gozo.

Organized in collaboration with Art Discussion Group.

Open to the Public : August 8 to September 22, from Monday to Friday , 8:25 hrs to 12: 45 hrs ( except on  Public Holidays )  

Venue: Exhibition Hall 1, Ministry for Gozo, St Francis Square , Victoria, Gozo, Malta

Entrance is Free

Introductory Essay provided by the Curator, Mr E.V. Borg, President of Art Discussion Group:

INSPIRED IN CHINA - Fine Art Exhibition by Maltese Artists

Alex Attard, Simon Barthet, Catherine Cavallo, Antoine Farrugia and Darren Tanti who took part in the China Art & Culture Exchange Programme last summer are mounting: ‘ Inspired in China - Fine Art Exhibition by Maltese Artists 2016', to be inaugurated at the China Cultural Centre Gallery on Tuesday 6th December. The main aim behind the event is to strengthen the cultural and artistic ties between Malta and China.

Alex Attard (b.1955) is a fine art photographer with a particular though not exclusive attraction for architecture. His body of work, ‘The Overlooked Performance', chronicling unconscious behavior and recording the ephemeral art beneath the face of Renzo Piano's new Parliament for Valletta, is arguably, one of the most acknowledged local contemporary photographic expressions. Representative is ‘Bird's Nest Triptych' an interpretation of the Beijing Olympic Stadium. The subtle tonalities of light and shade, the silver greys, the geometric diagonal constructions turn modules or basic forms into art. Alex seems to agree that basic shapes are not beautiful relatively but absolutely. In the ‘Graffiti Triptych' he captures the moment as Trump's name appears among the handwriting on the wall: past and present overlap. His, is an intellectual work but sensuous, tangible and physical. His innate sense of creativity and his very personal interpretation of his subjects have won him acclaim and numerous awards.

Simon Barthet (b.1972) has made his mark as a master of painting technique and a warm, emotional colourist. Influenced by his grandfather Esprit Barthet (1919-99), Simon has studied Cezanne especially the still life so powerful and dynamic bearing the seeds of Cubism. A characteristic still life is that with oranges, white ceramic plate and blue pot and cup placed on a creased tablecloth with dramatic folds to capture light and shadow. The generous and warm colours, the light flooded volumes, tangible masses and defined space demonstrate certain bravura, a jovial sensuousness and an extrovert nature. Simon is known for his portraits and landscapes. Tradition for the man is a fount of communal knowledge and wisdom, the source of experience transformed into expression. ‘Temple of Heaven' by Barthet is a very strong and expressionistic language perhaps more intense, bolder and more powerful than other earlier works.

Catherine Cavallo (b.1963) is an Expressionist at the peak of her creativity. With great disinvoltura she evokes atmosphere, freezes the moment and movement, interprets character, reads gesture and articulates physiognomy. She has always been captivated in interpreting the language of faces and human gesture. In her boundless enthusiasm for life her scenarios palpitate, pulsate and vibrate with a sensuality that is quite orgiastic. A representative example is one of her exhibits that is not only artistic but documents the event. It represents all participants in the Art & Culture Exchange Programme: a self-portrait of the artist, Kenneth Spiteri (MCC Chairman), Simon Barthet, Antoine Farrugia, Mr. Yanjun Wang, (Director of CCC) Tony Cassar Darrien (MCC Artistic Director), Catherine Tabone (Director of Culture), Alex Attard with camera, and Darren Tanti. The composition is imbued with drama, has unity, movement, sentiment and feeling.

‘Pure Form' by Antione Farrugia (b.1969) crystallizes his work as his shapes are forms in space in perfect harmony and balance. Their simplicity is the hallmark of his oeuvre and since they are pure and perfect they are minimalist in essence. The profound harmony and balance of the modules produce a musical and lyrical rhythm that charms the heart and mind. His works are timeless though influenced by ancient and modern expression. There is a rare delicacy and unique elegance in his tactile works. ‘Fossil' and ‘Bird`s Egg - Inspired by Bird`s Nest, Beijing' in patinated globigerina limestone (franka) mounted on hard stone and lava are representative of Antoine's vision.

Darren Tanti (b.1987) captures the attention of the viewer by the universality of his images. He merges east and west, bonds contemporary and past masters, fuses past and present and seems to shed doubt on the notion of national art. He believes more in a unified art as in truth, art is in the air and is not confined by geographical boundaries. The wider the interpretation of a work the more universal it becomes. Darren creates comparisons and contrasts: a Chinese modern woman standing next to a peasant woman from the Romantic period as we come across in 'The Young Shepherdess' by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825 -1905). The landscape brings the two figures together in the manner of a collage, or as in cut and paste. In the image of a ‘Child' Darren fuses monochrome and colour but experiments further by digitally merging a study of a child by Rubens and an image of a Chinese boy that the artist came across in his journey in China. The surreal element surfaces in the two pairs of eyes that look up and down. Again in another collage a mother and child are depicted against the details from the famous painting ‘Las Meninas' by Diego Velazquez. The interconnecting laughing dwarf, originally painted by the Chinese artist Yue Minjun and quoted by Darren, seems intent to bond reality with the surreal. Darren's reference to the old masters is a call to sanity. He seems to hint that grazing on pastures new is as positive as old pastures since tradition is the collective wisdom of man as there is no break between past, present and future. Art is a continuous process, an expression without bounds. Darren comments thus: ‘...the artist, no matter where, likes to play even though it is usually serious play'. Art is a reflection of life and therefore universal.

Umberto Eco (1932-2015) once said: ‘Culture is the means to know each other better, and the better we know each other, the less likely we are to kill each other'. Knowing is loving.

E. V. Borg
Curator & Art Critic
22. 11. 2016




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