Gabriel Buttigieg is one of Malta’s leading innovative visual artists and he will be completing an art residency in Giessenburg this month alongside Russian painter Julia Kiryanova.
CloverMill Artist Residency is a studio and exhibition space based on the grounds of an old water windmill. It was founded by Irish artist and curator Jennifer Smith and it offers a collaborative space for critical thinking, experimentation, an open dialogue, and a gallery space to present new work.
On theme with the experimental space, the project focuses on “the process of art, rather than the actual artistic product”.
For Buttigieg, the residency will serve a three-fold function.
Firstly, he will have a collaborative medium to explore complex themes related to notions of the feminine, a recurring subject in his work. While immersing himself in the “serenity of the Dutch countryside” and collaborating with fellow creative Kiryanova.
Next, he will be completing a dissertation which is part of the Masters of Fine Arts by Research, mentored by Professor Vince Briffa.
The dissertation will be founded on a series of interviews “exploring the role of the feminine in drawing and painting”. Academic experts from diverse fields, namely gender studies, history of art, theology, sociology, philosophy, and psychology, will be consulted.
He will interpret and reflect what he has learned through a visual representation.
Finally, both the artist residency and the dissertation will lead to a solo exhibition to be held in February 2022, curated by Justine Balzan Demajo, entitled “Four Seasons”.
The anticipated exhibition will explore the artist’s interpretation of the facades of personality and humanity while primarily focusing on the feminine.
The constant flux of life, along with the disembodiment of the female body will serve as integral features of the work.
The solo exhibition further owes its inception to three paintings that Buttigieg executed during 2021: Agnus Dei, Primavera and Hibrus.
The former is a large-scale acrylic painting that explores the “hedonism of humanity along with the dabbling of the gods in the salvific process, where sexual energy, redemption, and man’s downfall become one in a warped and sensually ecstatic paradox.”
Primavera followed. It celebrates an artificially created universe, wherein the mirroring of the gods and humanity is evidently enjoyed.
“However, the hedonistic representation is clearly counterbalanced by a more menacing theme, which lurks just beneath the surface.”
The final and recently completed Hubris focuses on the “audacity of mortals” who dare to challenge the gods, and the subsequent realisation of one’s lack of power that is characterised by the tedium of daily life.
The importance of the female body, the primordial and the mythological, tribal and Mediterranean elements, as well as the ecstatic and the divine, have always featured extensively in Buttigieg’s body of work.
He has explored both drawing and painting in various exhibitions, both of the solo and collective types.
Buttigieg’s solo exhibitions include ‘Paintings’ (2016), ‘Nudes’ (2016), ‘The Droplet Series’ (2017), ‘Saudade’ (2018), and ‘The Beach’ (2019).
His works can be found in public and private collections around Europe.
The Dutch art residency will be held between 6th and 9th September.
Will you be checking out Buttigieg’s work?