Sex, death and the transience of all things permeate the artistic work of the maltese painter Gabriel Buttigieg. An authentic hymn to nature and to the secret art of living the moment.
Dominated by memorable depictions of the human figure, the art of the maltese visual artist Gabriel Buttigieg (b.1993) is what critics have described as paint exploding on canvas to limn the urgent, volcanic passions that engulf human relations.
Buttigieg confesses that behind his artistic drive is his fascination with sex, death and the transience of all things.
This feeds his savage thirst for the beauty and pleasures of nature and the body untrammelled by inhibitions. This counterbalances the melancholic and more contemplative strain in his art–a sense of loss and longing for a primordial state of innocence, as well as disenchantment and disgust at the corruption and artificiality of contemporary humanity. This young artist’s worldview is darkened also by his existentialism and his belief in evolution and determinism.
Gabriel Buttigieg has held a number of solo exhibitions, namely Paintings (2016), Nudes (2016), ‘The Droplet’ series (2017) and Saudade (2018). He has also participated in several collective exhibitions, among them at Spazju Kreattiv (MT), Valletta Contemporary Art (MT), and with the Xarolla Group of Artists (MT). His works are part of public and private collections in Europe. After his solo exhibition The Beach (2019) at the Armoury of Art, Academy of Fine Art, Gdansk, Poland, Buttigieg will be working for upcoming exhibitions and projects in Piacenza, Italy and Chateauneuf sur Charente, France.
Gabriel Buttigieg has studied at the Faculty of Education and the Department of Digital Arts. He is currently reading for a degree in Psychology at the University of Malta.
(Text courtesy Valletta Contemporary).
Which kind of influence does Malta have in your way of feeling things and so in your art?
The Mediterranean concept features heavily in my work, especially considering the insular mentality on the island. I have always looked beyond these shores, and while retaining a Mediterranean identity, I have always seen myself as a citizen of the world rather than simply a product of the island mentality. I feel I bridge the gap between the Eastern and Southern European links. When I look back on the past, I reflect that few have looked at the idealization of the psychology of the nude on these islands, and as an innate reaction to this, I have made this body of work my own.
Is there any artwork or artist inspiring/hunting you?
Art has its roots in ancient times. I haves always looked at artist who have the power to provoke raw feelings, both of the primitive and the romantic type. Artists such as Titian and El Greco have pushed me towards art, contemporary artists such as Hockney and Baselitz have inspired me, and even ultra-contemporary artists such as Igor Moritz, have influence me heavily. I have also reacted to the 80s movement which claimed that painting is dead, and have therefore followed in the steps of Eric Fischl.
Do you have a favorite artwork from yours and the reason behind this preference?
Choosing between my art would be an needless endeavour. Every piece that I have created is a reflection of my sense of self across time. It worries me that artists become stagnated in the same cycle of paintings, as that indicates that the personality is not in flux, on an individual, a collective, and an artistic level. I react to the fact that the social construct is one which defines painting as being dead, and hence every work that I deliver is a reaction to this movement, which of course implies that my favourite work is the one that I would be working on at that time. I attempt to strengthen my work through philosophical, psychological, and deterministic stances, in which I am guided by unconscious needs and drives, and it is that vehicle which inspires me on a human and spiritual level.
What is the effect of these semi apocalyptic times over your way of regarding art ?
This particular period in history has given me the space to reflect, to take the time to refine the creative and technical aspects of my art. I was always a prolific artist and I have worked with an innate urgency to finish my work. The space that this social shutdown has given me is precious, in that I have had the space to reflect on my works, in their entirety. During the last months, I have launched series entitled “Lands”, which lauds the fecundity and the physical fluid reality of the feminine body. I have also started a creative project, which is still in its very initial phases, which will lead to an exhibition in Piacenza in Italy. This project started in the space of darkness, in an in-between space which defines being birthed.