The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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‘Pathos’ at Muża: Something to shout about

Marie Benoît Sunday, 12 November 2023, 08:20 Last update: about 5 months ago

I have long admired Chris Ebejer's work. I have never met him though I have been in touch with him by email and given his work publicity over several years. I remember a Brief Encounter interview, back in 2013, before an exhibition at the German-Maltese Circle. He is an admirer of Germany,Germans and their efficiency. He is prodigiously talented and creative. Largely self-taught when it comes to sculpture, he graduated in film production and interior design in New York. He has also designed and worked on various film sets.

 

Chris has received several commissions in Malta. Of the ones I know of I love best the one of the little girl reading in the Mall gardens in Floriana.

He has a bronze monument in one of the world's largest artistic parks in Changechun, China. Not many artists can claim this.

I have always had the feeling that he is a born artist. Lately, after receiving an invitation to his latest exhibition, Pathos, at Muża, I decided to go to the launch and finally meet him and congratulate him on his gift and enormous achievements. Goodness knows, I now say to myself, this might be the last chance for me to do so. I don't want to live to a 100.

Many friends and admirers turned up to Chris's launch including several Sicilian academics and their wives. We waited for Dr Roberta Metsola to launch the exhibition but after over half an hour and still, she made no appearance, it was decided to start without her.

The main speaker was the Curator of Pathos, Prof. Paolo Giansiracusa, who gave a brilliant analysis.  He has written and edited so many books, is an expert on Caravaggio, and has a distinguished career. Chris told me that the following day he took the professor to Fort St Angelo, where Caravaggio was imprisoned. For such a busy man to accept to curate Pathos says a great deal for the quality of Chris's art.

Dr Metsola finally appeared. Gordon Pisani, who organised the event, handed her a speech which she waived away, said a few words about the exhibition and then toured it with Chris and Prof. Paolo Giansiracusa.

The following is just an excerpt of the professor's speech translated into English: "The Pathos exhibition delves into the root of Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations. The exhibition links decay and emotion. This is most evident in these works inspired by ancient sculptural fragments and the deterioration effect of time and age. Through these works the artist wants to convey the message expressed in terracotta and bronze as material that links the past and the present. These were the same materials employed centuries ago to immortalize the images of ancient gods. Pathos intends to create a dialogue between the materials used to create images of gods in ancient civilizations and to represent them in the contemporary world."

Another speaker was Raymond Saliba who edited Floriani the book about the work involved in the making of the monument of the Italian military engineer of the 17th century, Pietro Paolo Floriani. Chris was commissioned to make that monument. If I remember well Carla Floriani Compagnoni had come for its inauguration. I had been in touch with her and had put her on the front cover of First magazine which I then edited, seated in front of the portrait of Floriani in the family home in Macerata, full of family archives.

Mr Saliba, it seems to me, 'discovered' Chris Ebejer when, years ago, he admired something beautiful in the Qrendi church and asked who was responsible for it and it turned out to be Chris. So he spoke to him and told him that he must develop his art, advice which Chris heeded.

 

After the commentaries I went to say hello to Chris and congratulated him, face to face rather then over email, for a change. However, I was  upstaged by Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli, whom I have known for  many years, both of us being in the world of journalism. She told me that Chris and herself were neighbours in Qrendi in their youth. Both have taken different directions but both have achieved success in their spheres.

I love the exhibition but most of all his white ceramic creations which are refined and delightful. His work is full of poetic resonances. I am not one to believe in gimmickery and shock. I recall going to an exhibition in London, years ago, in which one exhibit consisted of an empty room in which the light bulb went on and off. Was that supposed to be revolutionary art? What a waste of time and space. Chris's works are mostly of a quiet, poetic beauty.  Whether in terracotta, bronze or ceramic, the exhibits are creations of the artist's imagination. He is not the look-at-me-I'm-shocking kind of artist. Although only one year older than my younger daughter, he has been round the block a few times, is well travelled, well read and loves mostly classical and film music. He is so self-effacing inspite for his enormous achievements.

 

I will visit the exhibition again before it closes on 10th December.  I found it impressive and a cool and refined experience, especially keeping in mind the curator's analysis.  

On my way out, mysteriously, Prof. Giansiracusa gave me a shell... He had several in a box. No doubt it has some profound meaning but there was no time to ask him. I have kept it.

 

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Don't forget the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Mediterranean Conference Centre this coming Saturday. There are two performances. For ticket information and inquiries, please visit showshappening.com/mcc/Glenn-Miller-Orchestra or contact [email protected].


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