The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

Marie Benoit's Diary: A very Spanish evening

Marie Benoît Sunday, 22 May 2022, 07:50 Last update: about 2 months ago
Angelo Dalli, Director, 111 Art Gallery, Spanish artist Beatriz Solera Caballero, HE José María  Muriel, Spanish Ambassador to Malta
Angelo Dalli, Director, 111 Art Gallery, Spanish artist Beatriz Solera Caballero, HE José María Muriel, Spanish Ambassador to Malta

Your cultural events spy was invited by Pablo Botello Carretero, President of the Maltese-Spanish Chamber of Commerce, to a reception sponsored by the Chamber at Art111 Gallary in Ta'Xbiex.  I sighed with relief as I had been there before and knew exactly where it was and parking was relatively easy. The occasion was the closing of the paintings exhibition Malta through the eyes of a Spanish Woman, the Spanish woman being the artist Beatriz Solera Caballero who was present that evening. She is a member of the Chamber. She was born in Madrid in 1976 and her interest in Fine Arts began during her childhood when she used to lie on the floor for hours, drawing and painting. 

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Mr Botella Carretero gave a short and interesting presentation Tools and Resources for the internationalization of Spanish businesses - opportunities in Malta. Guests then admired the paintings while enjoying a glass of limited-production Spanish wines with Spanish Tapas provided by Ole Tapas who have now opened a restaurant in St Helen's square in Birkirkara. The canapes were the size of a couple of mouthfuls which is as they should be. Bigger portions are not for this kind of reception.

In his speech, the President referred to the lecture by the writer and diplomat Luis Martinez Montes, The Hispanic World in Western History which had taken place the day before. Mr Botella Carretero said that there's a great influence of Spain in Malta and mentioned Grand Master of the Order of St John, Martin de Redin who was born in Pamplona (I always thought he was French) and who is well known for the building of the 13 watch towers around the coast of Malta, eight of which still exist. He also used his influence as former Viceroy of Sicily to bring food and support from our neighbour in a time of severe scarcity in Malta.

The President of MSCC then spoke about the Chamber and the network of Spanish institutions which support the internationalization of business, a network which he likened to Grand Master de Redin's watch towers. It is also an institution that can use its influence to bring valuable assets (people, capital, know-how) to those places wherever it is established. "In the one-and-a-half years of my presidency I witnessed Malta's efforts for the internationalisation of their own business and institutional offering such as the events in Madrid last February and the pilot programme with the Chamber in Brussels regarding SME. We also helped members and non-members in their relations and research regarding markets, clients, suppliers etc.  I cannot help but ask myself 'What if we combine these efforts?' In fact that is what the MSCC is working towards. It was founded by Maltese businesspeople and is officially recognised by Spain." He urged the audience to keep an eye on MSCC "as we will become more noticeable in the coming years in Malta. Keep us in mind and reach out with your inquiries and ideas. We would love to share our "network of Redin towers" and whatever influence we may have."

He then referred to the paintings of Beatriz Solera which we had been admiring and said she is a great example of how Spaniards blend in. "She has lived in Malta for more than 10 years and exquisitely painted the country and its people."

I had an enjoyable chat with several people including the artist. She specialised in Image Arts and immediately started accepting commissions for portraits, photoshoots and so on which she signed with the pseudonym Levita, a nickname used by her mother's family for generations. She has participated in different collective and solo exhibitions and has received several awards for her paintings and photography.

How did she come to be in Malta? In 2010, she decided to move to Malta for a short period of time. She found its turquoise waters and gold light inspiring. "Those initial few years here turned into more than a decade of living in Malta," she explains. It is only after a decade of living in Malta that she has decided to capture her experience of the island in a series of paintings composed of works which guests at the Gallary were able to admire, that evening, paintings such as Sundays in Marsaxlokk, Living in St Paul's Bay among others.

There is something 'different' about the art of this Spanish artist. Many of the scenes were familiar, painted again and again by many artists. But somehow or other hers communicated depth and a certain luminosity.

Art brings people together. In this case the Spanish and the Maltese. Also patronage crosses the divide between religion and different cultures. The Asian buyer covets the same work of art as the Arab prince as well as the equally passionate collector in Paris, London, Amsterdam and Malta.

The MSCC does well to also include Art and not only businesspeople in its quest to forge bridges.

 

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