Month: September 2017

Meeting Christopher Saliba

How did you start your artistic journey? Art in Malta - Christopher Saliba
I showed an inclination towards artistic aptitudes since I was very young. I remember myself scribbling sketches of crucifixes during lessons at school. As I grew up, I have always found the courage to move onwards, thanks to the support of my family and friends.
I graduated in art education at the University of Malta in 1996. During my Bachelors, I studied under two well know Maltese artists who require no introduction. They are Harry Alden and Anton Agius.
The breakthrough to my artistic career occurred in 1997 after I won a scholarship at the Accademia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannucci in Perugia. This academy is one of the most renowned art academies from which most famous local artists emerged. During these intensive years I explored different techniques and media which enabled me to evolve my artistic language. I might say that this introspective research is still ongoing, since the artistic development is never-ending.
How do you define your art?
If I have to define my art I might rather label it as Expressionist. An Expressionist artist is more interested in distorting reality and liberating his or her emotions rather than creating a faithful representation of what may appear familiar. I always felt that I should never copy or reproduce reality, but rather show my deep emotions in relation to what captures my attention. There is no question that photography is more objective and accurate in registering data from the surrounding environments, so I find it challenging to re-invent the world around me.
What encouragement did you receive during your artistic journey?
The support from my family was very important. I have also found support from several other individuals since I organised my first solo exhibition. I also acknowledge the support I have been given from the Maltese and Italian Governments who gave me the opportunity to widen my knowledge at the art academy in Perugia.
What inspires you?
The development of artistic movements and trends does not stop with the Impressionists, the Expressionists and Post-Second World War artists. Together with the traditional Arts of Painting and Sculpture, one has to mention as well the relevance of Video Art and Installations which are dominating the current artistic scenario in the USA and European countries. In terms of painting, Alberto Burri and Nicholas de Stael are two important artists from the post-war era whom I admire a lot. On the other hand, I find the work of post-modern artists Richard Long and Bill Viola very fascinating and stimulating. In relation to Maltese art, I am a great admirer of artists like Willie Apap and Emvin Cremona who made outstanding contributions throughout their artistic career.
Which is your preferred medium?
Like every other artist, I configure mental images which sometimes develop into finished works. The difficulty is how to transform your ideas and present them to the viewers. The versatility of my artistic approach enables me to develop my ideas with a wide range of media, which include sculpture, photography, acrylics, oils and mixed media. As regards painting, I usually treat my canvasses with a primer to create textured surfaces. Personally, I feel that by roughening the surface of my canvasses I give character and a personal idiom to my paintings.
What comes through your mind before you start applying paint onto your canvas?
It depends whether I am working on a figurative or a non-figurative painting. In the case of figurative art, the process is easier since I make use of the visual data which condition the final result. In the case of non-figurative or abstract art, I usually make use of simple sketches and drawings which develop gradually into final works What is common to all my abstract paintings is the meticulous search for balance and proportion between forms, colours and texture. Basically, my works consist of pre-structured and orderly plans which are rendered in a spontaneous and emotional way. One could easily notice in my paintings a certain extent of impulsiveness in my brushstrokes which definitely reflect and complement my personality.
When do you dedicate your time to art?
I enjoy working most during natural daylight. I can see the colours as they are supposed to look. I don’t like winter-time since days are shorter and there is less daylight. I prefer the seasons of Spring and Autumn during which colours are bright and contrasting.
What can you say about the financial aspect in relation to your own perspective?
The life of an artist is not an easy one. It has to be self-fulfilling and one would lie to himself or herself if the prior intention is to please the observers. The artist should always be true to himself and please first and foremost himself with his work. Somebody bound or committed to produce what other people like is not an artist at all. A true artist should always be free to express himself or herself in the ways he or she feels appropriate. If an artist exploits his art for financial interests and gains, his art is contaminated. I am not saying that financial success is not important; it is acceptable when achieved as a natural by-product of genuine artistic efforts. Financial success is important since it encourages artists to keep on working.
What do you think about those artists who try and hide behind abstract art?
I feel that abstract art, which is just one branch of contemporary art, is relatively more challenging to produce than figurative art. In abstract art, the artist has no visual reference from objective reality. The artist has to get in touch solely with his inner self. Colours, forms and rhythms are then combined harmoniously to express the relative states of mind.
Do you see any difference between Maltese artists and international artists?
There are cultural differences. The artist who lives in a metropolis has different visual and cultural influences. Local artists sometimes tend to be more restricted in their expression. For instance, few dare deliver political messages through their work. Few dare to be poignant in terms of cultural and political discrimination. Maybe these are areas yet untouched by local artists.

Categories: Art