The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
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‘Landmarks’

Sunday, 2 October 2022, 09:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Fabio Borg (b. 1974) is holding his eighth solo exhibition throughout the month of October at The Palm Court Lounge, The Phoenicia Malta.

The exhibition is entitled Landmarks, even if the locations pictured are not necessarily recognisable to us. In fact, they were created in Borg's mind's eye and then construed and made real through his brush. They are his innate emotions being expressed onto canvas and painted by instinct. The paintings therefore become emotional landmarks that Borg is inviting the viewer to partake in. This also explains why these paintings are produced in Borg's studio and not en plain air.

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In these compositions, trees are the main protagonist and are ubiquitous features, the quintessential element to look out for when in nature. Borg is sensitive to his surroundings and trees, or the seeming lack thereof, and such issue is often a topic of heated discussions. By painting trees, Borg is, of course, also making a visual commentary as a poignant pastoral elegy for trees to be preserved in our local countryside, rather than taking trees down to make way for streets. In his mind, trees will soon become fossilised museum and exhibition pieces as envisaged by Joni Mitchell in Big Yellow Taxi.

In this exhibition, Borg explores acrylic on canvas to his full advantage, but has also experimented with canvas panels. These provide a more rigid and firm support which allows for his raw emotion to shine through while painting, with the texture of the support playing a role in the final effect of the composition he wanted to convey.

There are no buildings in sight in this collection of paintings and nothing to detract our attention from nature, except for maybe a path that leads the viewer deeper into the composition. The moon makes an appearance in one of the compositions.

Borg is exploring landscapes that are hazy, dreamy, sometimes even eerie, but they are also hauntingly beautiful. These paintings could very much be the backdrop to a theatre production or setting the scene for a movie.

These paintings sometimes show bursts of colour which were executed only with a limited palette. Blues, reds and yellows are central to this collection, with The Black Trees being the one that is almost entirely monochrome and powerful. On the opposite end of the scale one can here mention the sun bathing the scene in Sotto questo sole. The palette employed is one of warm and cool tones that Borg created himself from the main primary colours, mixing them to achieve the depth of tone that we can experience at first hand.

And there are many layers to each painting, not just composed of paint, but also of drawn lines added over the painted sections that make them appear very fresh in execution.

Thanks to this exhibition of paintings largely produced in the last two years, we can ourselves dream of an idyllic countryside, of lavender fields, of being engulfed by greenery, of breathing fresh air and of vast expanses of space with not a building in sight. That is what Borg's paintings are, an idealised reinterpretation of nature in Malta and not a copy of the local landscape as we know it. In this way, Borg's paintings are not mimesis. They are not your typical pretty landscapes. The raw emotion that goes into the production of these paintings has also resulted in some of the compositions verging on the abstract, but these are a completely different non-representational type of painting than what Borg himself has produced in the past.

The Covid-19 pandemic made many retreat into their private space but also to find the freedom to experience the outdoors like never before and coming to the realisation how even our homes require more outdoor spaces and green to serve as a respite from the mad rush that is life.

Being of Italian descent, having also lived in Italy, Borg often gives his paintings titles in the Italian language. In fact, Landmarks comes as a natural progression from Radici, a solo exhibition Fabio held in April of this year at Galleria Vittoria, one of the prestigious galleries in Rome on via Margutta.

In this collection of paintings we see a mature artist at work and one who is sensitive to issues concerning his homeland.

'Landmarks' is open at The Phoenicia Malta from 3 to 30 October and is curated by Dr Charlene Vella

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