The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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Nude in Spoleto

Marika Azzopardi Monday, 1 June 2015, 14:31 Last update: about 10 years ago

Today marks the last day of an exhibition which has been showing at Palazzo Collicola, Spoleto, for the past two months. Fifty-five works by local painter Patrick Dalli, have embellished the walls of Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive Art Gallery's, effectively forming part of the gallery's springtime exhibitions for 2015.

As a renown painter of nudes, Dalli has been actively involved in the art scene locally and abroad since 1995. This exhibition gives me the opportunity to meet Patrick at his studio and talk to him about his art, his technique and the experience of exhibiting in an 18th Century palace in the province of Perugia.

As several of his newer and as yet unfinished oils look on, the first obvious question springs to mind - why Spoleto? Patrick explains, "This all came about quite by chance and my intention was originally to exhibit a collection of my latest work here in Malta. For this purpose, I visited Saint James Cavalier late last year to enquire about possible space for 2015. The first reception I received did not auger well, but I was quickly encouraged to send in all required application forms and images of my work for consideration. It was hinted to me that there was probable space for my exhibition to be placed in one of two free months during 2015. I dutifully filled in my forms and submitted them, but after three weeks I received a response stating there was no space for my work after all, and it was actually suggested that I approach another exhibition space in Valletta. The fact that I was not offered alternative dates in the 2016 schedule, and that a completely different venue was suggested to me to exhibit in, led me to conclude that I am not welcome to exhibit at Saint James Cavalier."

Having already exhibited in this prestigious location way back in 2008, and being such a well established painter whose works have also exhibited at Valletta's  Museum of Fine Arts in 2010, Patrick was somewhat perturbed by this turn of events. "I reasoned that if this is the attitude reserved for established painters like myself, who knows how new and upcoming artists are received? It would be totally disheartening for a new artist to be welcomed with this kind of rebuff and with such a response, since today most people hold Saint James Cavalier in high esteem, and consider it a leading and professionally run establishment within the local art world."

Still, things happen for a reason and shortly after this disappointing experience, Patrick was in Rome and whilst there was, perchance, introduced to Gianluca Marziani. "Marziani is the artistic director of Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive, and when he saw my works he was immediately interested in having them on exhibition at the Palazzo. He actually took the trouble to travel to Malta, where he personally selected the 55 individual works here in my studio and proceeded to curate my exhibition."

The exhibition 'Dermografie' provides a chronological journey of Dalli's paintings,  and has featured in the February/March 2015 edition of the arts magazine 'Art & Art'. In the 'Annuario Arte Moderna 2015' (ACCA edizioni Roma), Patrick Dalli's work sits on two pages between the works of Italian artists Guerino Palomba and Giorgio Morandi. Marziani also wrote an extremely insightful essay to introduce the exhibition, which essay has been published in Dalli's exhibition catalogue entitled 'Dermografie' (Midsea Books Ltd.). Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Dalli's exhibition is proceeding on to the Republic of San Marino's Palazzo Arzilli, where the Consul of Malta in San Marino, Dr Claudio Marciano di Scala will be present for the inauguration later this summer.

It is interesting to note that one of Dalli's monumental nudes was one of selected finalists in the Premio Carlo Bonatto Minella Biennale 2013 'Oltre il Corpo.... l'Anima'.  "There were 823 entries, 20 of which were selected for the Under 30 category and another 20 paintings were selected for the Over 30 category. My work made it in the latter category with success after having been selected by the Italian critic Vittorio Sgarbi. It was eventually published in the Biennale's catalogue and remains one of my personal favourites to date."

Dalli admits that his initial artistic inspiration was ignited from art tuition taken at a mature age under the guidance of Anton Calleja. "I have never looked back since and I dedicate four to six hours at a stretch to my painting, late at night, sometimes every day, when my work schedule permits it. I work mostly in oils but also enjoy watercolours and charcoal. Nowadays my nudes are mostly monumental oils and larger than life."

His interest is to paint flesh. In fact, although most of his paintings are of female nudes, he selects sitters carefully,  irrespective of their beauty. His sitters have to be well prepared for his paintings with their unforgiving brush strokes, which are totally oblivious of the 'photoshop' effect. The portraiture is especially realistic, intimate and unabashed. What you see is what you get and in some instances, Dalli's paintings are so true to reality that one can occasionally also glimpse dimples of cellulite and sunburnt décolletages in excellently depicted overtones of flesh tonalities. If anything, these paintings shy away from the concept that women need to be perfect in order to be beautiful. Amidst fleshy bellies, abundant thighs and feminine intimacy, it is plain to see that woman is beautiful, no matter what shape she takes and what age she carries.

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