“Urgent, volcanic passions that engulf human relations, and a fascination with sex, death and the transience of all things.” There’s really no other way to describe Maltese painter Gabriel Buttigieg’s work… and soon, his latest series will be exhibited on the island after having impressed and inspired art connoisseurs in Poland.
The Beach, a series of paintings that debuted far away from home, was first exhibited in Gdansk, Poland last November. Now, eight months (that feel like years, to be honest) later, the series is set to be shown to local art lovers in a couple of weeks’ time.
It’s all set to kick off at Valletta’s super cool Splendid on 18th July, with the exhibition running until the 25th.
Gabriel is a well-known and revered name in the local art scene, and this latest series promises “a move from tribal elements to the artist’s Mediterranean roots which are always vividly evident”.
Curated by Professor Vince Briffa and supported by both the Maltese Embassy of Poland and the Malta Arts Fund, The Beach had gone down a treat in Poland. Now, Gabriel is curious to see whether it’s received the same way back at home.
“It will be interesting to see this collection reunited,” Buttigieg said in an interview on MaltaToday. “I will be curious to see the reaction to the paintings in a Maltese context, especially with respect to the visual impact of the phallic works, which in Poland was very well-received.”
After its November stint at The Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk’s Great Armoury, The Beach is now heading home.
The large and colourful works – which embody Gabriel’s signature style – are sure to bring a whole lot of character to the walls of Valletta’s brothel-turned-hotel-turned-art-space Splendid.
“My work has always been inspired by images emanating from primitive roots and dominated by the human figure,” Gabriel had told Lovin Malta ahead of his exhibition’s debut in Poland. “In The Beach, I found myself going into a more expressionist mood, opting for thick brushstrokes, movement and emotion; similar to my earlier work in Paintings & Nudes.”
The paintings, as the name implies, are mostly set at the beach, a recurring scene in most of Gabriel’s artwork.
“Being naturally drawn to the seaside as a place where one can destress from the tensions of everyday life, it is also one of the few public places which allow the person to be comfortable and manifest themselves without inhibition,” he elaborated.
Of course, this being a post-COVID event, some amendments have had to be included in the planning of The Beach’s exhibition.
Forgoing the usual opening night ceremony, the exhibtion will instead hit the ground running on Saturday 18th July, with Splendid opening from 10.30am to 2pm and then letting visitors in again between 4.30pm and 7pm.
Hand sanisiters will be made available at the entrance of both the building and its seperate rooms, and visitors are being asked to maintain a minimum distance of two metres from each other.
More information on The Beach’s debut in Malta can be found on the exhibition’s official Facebook event page.