INSPIRED IN CHINA – FINE ART EXHIBITION BY MALTESE ARTISTS
29/06/2018 – 30/08/2018
China Cultural Centre in Malta (CCC) proudly presents Inspired in China –Fine Art Exhibition by Maltese Artists, endorsed by Valletta 2018 Foundation. This branded annual event appertains to CCC’s bilateral exchange activities for the fifth consecutive year, featuring masterpieces of various genres and styles which depict first-hand experiences and impressions of China, as the main linking theme. Over the years, several representatives of Malta`s flourishing diverse art world have participated in this initiative, transforming their trip around China into a journey of creativity, which has injected vitality into the local art scene. In July-August of 2017, by invitation of the Ministry of Culture of China and recommendation of Arts Council Malta, Spazju Kreattiv, Times of Malta and Art Discussion Group, CCC selected five highly accomplished local artists: Aaron Bezzina, Enriquè Tabone, John Vic Borg, and Stephen Grima, and the acclaimed Photojournalist Matthew Mirabelli, to visit China`s southwestern Province of Guizhou, world-renowned for its splendid ecology, eclectic ethnic diversity and genial hospitality of its peoples. The exhibits presented showcase their masterful skills and knowledge of western art, inter woven with their cherished memories and aesthetic elements reminiscent of China.
Walled towns and old villages, lanterns swinging in the breeze, sculpted dragons and masks, precious jade, the pungent smell of spices and herbs, rice fields and tea in abundance, a karst eroded landscape quaint and strange with conical mountains, and hills covered by luscious vegetation as far as the eye can see, is what inspired our local artists. The feelings, emotions and moods that this panorama of lakes, rivers, waterfalls, caves and dizzy cliffs and slopes, with steps, and more steps to reach one belvedere more higher and beautiful than the other, was what stimulated Aaron Bezzina, John Vic Borg, Stephen Grima, Matthew Mirabelli and Enriquè Tabone to interpret works and permanently seal them for posterity. Hardly did the subtropical heat: damp, stifling and exhausting, discourage the artists brimming with enthusiasm, energy and with a thirst for adventure.
A bold neo-realist John Vic Borg (1971- ) presents a figurative, tangible and solid reality. Possibly like Gustave Courbet, he believes that painting ‘is essentially concrete and cannot but represent real and solid objects’. He relies exclusively on the perception of the senses and therefore equates reality with perception. He exploits his talent for portraiture to give an almost photographic, figurative and representatively human and humane reality astounding in its veracity.
Stephen Grima (1979- ) goes beyond the figurative and representative, and yet manages to seal optical images. He is primarily inspired by the spiritual, mystic, magical and mythological vision of the Miao minority ethnic group. ‘Miao Traditions’ is a good example painted in a light, dreamy style in the manner of a ‘buon fresco’, a technique Stephen masters.
Matthew Mirabelli (1975- ) impressively expresses his concepts in photography. A press photographer and photo journalist he specializes in the actual and factual. He captures the fleeting moment in great definition. His vast collection of Guizhou images is dominated by a captivating shot of a father and son. The latter is sound asleep on his shoulder oblivious of the dizzy heights of Mount Fanjing and the world around him, while his father is fixing a padlock to a chain for good fortune. What wonderful poetry elevating fatherhood to such intensity. A daughter who fails to capture her mother’s attention and a frontal image of a proud mother and her child are quite impressive.
‘Xewka’ by Aaron Bezzina (1991- ) is a kind of contraption, purely abstract and geometric. Its matrix could be organic or better still geological: the countless and varied stalactites and stalagmites we saw in Zhijin Cave in Guizhou. Since the contraption lies in a horizontal position the artist’s intention was to change its original context or to avoid perfect imitation, as Aaron is of the opinion that man feels so overwhelmed by the superhuman and spectacular force of nature that he is constrained to copy it, in his fragility and mortality. Possibly this shamanic quality of a thorn or spine lies in its form of a projectile or firework rocket.
Enriquè Tabone (1987- ) focuses and emphasizes light and colour, etched linearity, module, pattern and movement. With a little imagination, plexiglass the medium she chooses might suggest jade or amber, as it is translucent and transparent and can refract and reflect light, especially in the way the artist uses it in modules to suggest pattern and movement. Plexiglass is warmer in effect than plain glass and more tactile and malleable. ‘Go, go, go’ that strikes a resemblance to Antonio’s Sciortino runaway horses, titled ‘Speed’, is representative in its linearity, translucency and horizontal flow. The sleek form stands in its slipstream as a symbol of urgency in a 3,000 kilometre tour of Guizhou’s scenic wonders. It gleams magically in natural light.
This collection of figurative and representative, of abstract and abstracted work, demonstrates great liberty of interpretation and execution, of varied talent and technique, of vision and concept, of objective and subjective approaches, of spiritual and concrete lyrical and poetic expression of feeling, emotion, sentiment, mood and atmosphere.
E. V. Borg
Curator and art critic
Dates: 29th June – 30th August, 2018
Venue: Monet Gallery, Cavalieri Art Hotel, Water`s Edge, Spinola Road, St.Julian`s
Contact: [email protected] 356 2318 0000
Entrance is free
Organised by China Cultural Centre in Malta
Click here for the audiovisual introduction by the Times of Malta photojournalist, Matthew Mirabelli.