The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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A showcase of Italian design in Valletta

Simon Mercieca Monday, 19 November 2018, 08:02 Last update: about 7 years ago

This week the Italian artist, Tiziana Leopizzi, will be in Malta organizing a number of temporary exhibitions in Valletta. Today,  Leopizzi is considered the Italian ambassador of modern art. I was introduced to her by a mutual friend of ours, Andrea Granchi. Granchi is an artist in his own right and also a professor at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Florence. It is he who asked me whether I would be interested in helping her organize an exhibition in Malta.

What Leopizzi has been doing, since 1993, is to link contemporary art with industrial innovation and business through exhibitions. Any businessman today acknowledges the importance of design for the success of his business. But good design needs artistic inspiration. So far, Leopizzi has succeeded in bringing together over 165 000 artists and designers.

Her method is to create itinerant  installations. This year, the choice has fallen on Malta,  precisely, the city of Valletta. A number of places in Valletta have been chosen to host one or two exhibits. The choice of venue was based on a number of considerations with the most important being that the places chosen have to be easily accessible to individuals flocking to our city.  They can be historic buildings, like the National Library, the Italian Cultural Institute or even a leading hotel in Valletta.  

One may think that the choice of Valletta for this exhibition was a natural one as it is one of the two capital cities of culture for 2018. But there is, in truth, another reason why Leopizzi chose Valletta. This is Renzo Piano’s parliament. One needs to remember that Piano is a Genoese like Leopizzi. 

Piano’s parliament was a cause of great controversy in Malta.  The main argument was that his design did not match a city built by the Knights of St. John in what was seen to have been the baroque idiom. I will not go into this controversy. It is now relegated to history. But architecturally, Piano’s project ended up putting Valletta again on the cultural map of Europe and the world. Valletta became a must for all lovers of architecture  who are on the lookout for new artistic expressions in contemporary art. In terms of design, it falls with the contemporary idiom that Leopizzi seeks to promote through her work and exhibitions. The truth is that our parliament started to feature in a number of important international magazines and made Malta a natural choice for such a meeting.

A group of artists who strongly believe in the beauty of modern art will be visiting Valletta. They will be joining Leopizzi for five days of intense activities. For them, art is a laboratory. These artists seek to create a dialogue between the art of today and that of yesterday. And the choice of Malta, as a place of dialogue between the old and modern art was inspired by Piano’s project. It was the presence of such a building that enticed these artists to look at Valletta for their inspiration and also as a location to hold their itinerant exhibition.  These artists believe that art is not just an artistic expression. Art can move people to make good deeds and help businessmen to be proactive in the promotion of their commercial objects. They also strongly believe that art can lead to innovative industrial development. Good design is inspired and supported by great artistry.

I am pleased to have assisted her to meet different local entities involved in art or are owners of buildings of great artistic patrimony. These have accepted to allow temporary installations. For a few days, these buildings will become a platform where different artists set up their creations. Valletta will have its small temporary museum. At the same times, lovers of art can meet to discuss their artistic creations.

This is an international meeting that is intended to bring design, food, fashion, and art around one table. This event is now in its fourteenth year. It started out in Florence. Therefore, if one agrees that Modern Europe and the world started with the Italian Renaissance, then, one also needs to accept that Florence is the cradle of modern contemporary art. Besides other important cities in Italy, such as Genova and Rome, this manifestation was also held in China, to be precise in Beijing, Hangzhou Shanghai and Yiwu, Madiera in Portugal and Barcellona in Spain, Merida in Mexico,  London and Funcal in Portugal.  

The name given to this itinerant artistic laboratory is Artour-O il Must. It is a play of words, meaning our Art but also Art that is going on a tour, while the word MUST, besides carrying its English meaning of something which is needed, it is also an acronym for Museo Temporaneo, or temporary Museum. 

This exhibition will start on Wednesday November 21, and will last for five days. The installations which are brought over from Italy, are going to be dedicated to art in its wider sense of the word. Malta will become an interlocutor, where old art meets also the present forms. Therefore, art will also help in the re-evaluation of the territory.

Thus, those who are in Valletta during these days, may come across one or two modern art objects in the National Library, the Italian Cultural Centre or in one of Valletta’s main hotels. Other activities in connection with this event will also be held at the Casino Maltese.  


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