The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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Ethelbert Perini, a collective solo exhibition

Sunday, 1 October 2023, 08:25 Last update: about 3 months ago

Decades of experimentation with several media as well as formal training have led Ethelbert Perini to create a collection of artworks that are being exhibited in what is his first solo exhibition.

The exhibition's title, A Collective Solo, is an oxymoron that prepares the viewer primarily for a diversity in the themes that are being presented. However, the medium employed for each work is consistent throughout. The technique that Perini uses is soft pastels on paper or board and it is one that he discovered when exploring different media throughout his artistic journey.


Soft pastels were for him a revelation and exposure to a new medium that challenged him to tread new ground and which he took to immediately. His technique is one that he has mastered over years of practice. He is now able to exploit the medium to its full potential also utilising the coloured support that he allows to show through the composition which he also uses for middle or base tones as well as the different textures that different supports of his choosing have to offer.

This collection consists largely of still lifes, land, street and seascapes, as well as portraits. Perini's palette is a varied one consisting of diverse tones, which are a common thread throughout this series of works.

For still lifes, Perini's approach is dominated by a particular stylisation which is executed with ease, using a lot of the pastel to add colour to the support and manoeuvring it across the support. Adequate and captivating light on objects gives them more form, such as the memorable lush green of the apples. These different methods of using chalk pastels showcase Perini's abilities and the versatility of the medium, and which is also visible in the other themes.

His style is one that is fresh, an element which is best appreciated in the seascapes. With just a few twists of the pastel, Perini seems to effortlessly be able to capture the movement of the alluring waves and ripples in what can be called a calligraphic technique;

The starting point for each composition is always nature, Perini's surroundings, as well as the human form and physiognomies. The process that Perini undertakes is to then select the best viewpoint and vantage point of each scene. While some still lifes are approached frontally in what is a more traditional approach, some are seen from a bird's eye view, or even a view from above. He then proceeds to contemplate each composition and execute it by selecting the most important elements and adding life to each object by a variety of tones and a sharp chiaroscuro or light and shade.

Perini studied art under masters such as the late Harry Alden and Anton Calleja. And then it is years of self-scrutiny and perseverance that have led to Perini reaching this level of art and confidence of execution.

This exhibition has been long overdue and comes after many years of training, research, preparation and mastering of the soft pastel technique.

'A Collective Solo' is being held throughout the month of October in the Palm Court Lounge of The Phoenicia Malta and is curated by Dr Charlene Vella

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