The Malta Independent 20 April 2024, Saturday
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FIRST: Baring all - with Gabriel Buttigieg

First Magazine Thursday, 23 November 2017, 15:07 Last update: about 7 years ago

Young Maltese artist Gabriel Buttigieg launches his third exhibition next month, following the success of his first and second. Basically, he is intrigued by the human figure in its rawness and does not shy away from exploring that. First visited the artist in his studio in Paola. Words by Roberta Randon. Photography by Joanna Demarco.

Gabriel Buttigieg is currently working on his third solo exhibition. The 24-year-old's first exhibition, Paintings, which was held last year, was comprised of large-scale paintings, while his second exhibition was entitled Nudes.

This year, Gabriel will display two facets of his art which relate to one another on a profound level. The exhibition will consist of a Babies series and a Dikil- Qtajra series. They will be presented together, as they are both inspired by his father's somewhat controversial book Dikil-Qtajra.

Beyond the strong language and raw imagery expressed in the book, Gabriel was struck by the complex psyche of an unborn child and the instinctive energy shared between men and women.

The idea that one is born with an innate identity resonates in Gabriel's current work and it taps heavily into Freudian theory. Gabriel's interest in Freud, particularly in the id part of one's ego, has influenced his art tremendously. His depiction focuses on how the id dominates an individual in terms of impulsiveness, appetite and sexual desires.

To those who are unfamiliar with Freud's philosophy, he believed that one's psyche is structured in three levels: the id, ego and superego. The id is the most primitive and instinctive part of the mind, is governed by a pleasure principle and is most noticeable in babies. In other words, it wants to feel good all the time with no consideration for reality or consequences.

Gabriel's Babies series portrays this strong sense of identity and thoughts. It involves a number of different babies, each with their own personality but all sharing a pensive facial expression as they are lost in thought. They are presented in a raw and realistic manner in which they are not stiff and posed. Rather, the Babies are painted truthfully, with a sense of life experience that defies their innocence.

The Dikil-Qtajra series is a set of snapshots of an intimate couple, whereby the paintings replicate spontaneous photographs shared between two people in love who are expecting a child. Hence, there is what can be deemed as a 'love triangle', as all needs and desires strive to be satisfied between the three people. Admittedly, as an artist and self-critic, Gabriel points out that it can be perceived as somewhat sexist. The male subject appears to be sexually charged while the female feels protective and concerned for their baby. Therefore the different sexual energy and chemistry bounces off these individuals. 

These series are inspired by the belief that everything - both directly and indirectly - is influenced by sex, which does not refer to the physical act alone but also to pleasurable actions and thoughts. As an artist, Gabriel seeks to portray the reality of human beings in their rawest form; baring the physical and psychological.

Of course, just like any artist, his own personal experiences affect his work. Painting is his therapy; it is a period during which his thoughts roam free and translate onto canvas. His subconscious takes over and he is led by a paint brush and music.

Gabriel is fascinated by human figures and has been familiar with the work of Amadeo Modigliani since the tender age of eight. He developed an interest in the lines and figures of different models and soon found himself sketching people and becoming increasingly intrigued by the reality of those individuals.

He is already working on another series of paintings which are influenced by a recent personal experience. Once a phase in his life is over, he dedicates time to it by expressing it in different works of art. Live models - who often sit in the studio for four hours at a time, photographs, memories and, of course, imagination are his muse.

For all their rawness, Gabriel's paintings express a sense of the delicacy and vulnerability of human nature. He does not shy away from reality but rather chooses to immortalise it.

The exhibition will be held at Iniala5, 9th April Street, Mosta from 22 November to 9 December.







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