Photography by Joanna Demarco
Maltese visual artist Gabriel Buttigieg (b. 1993) has held a number of solo exhibitions, namely ‘Paintings’ (2016), ‘Nudes’ (2016), ‘The Droplet’ series (2017) and ‘Saudade’ (2018). He has also participated in several collective exhibitions, among them at Spazju Kreattiv (MT), Valletta Contemporary Art (MT), and with the Xarolla Group of Artists (MT). His works can be found in public and private collections in Europe. After his solo exhibition ‘The Beach’ (2019) at the Armoury of Art, Academy of Fine Art, Gdansk, Poland, Buttigieg will be working for upcoming exhibitions and projects in Piacenza, Italy and Chateauneuf sur Charente, France.
Dominated by memorable depictions of the human figure, it is characterised by what critics have described as paint exploding on canvas to limn the urgent, volcanic passions that engulf human relations. He started his artistic trajectory with a distinctly expressionist manner; since then, he has researched endlessly to hone a style which evolves with every exhibition and which is incontrovertibly his own.
Buttigieg confesses that behind his artistic drive is his fascination with sex, death and the transience of all things. This feeds his savage thirst – so palpable in his paintings – for the beauty and pleasures of nature and the body untrammelled by inhibitions. This is counterbalanced by a melancholic and more contemplative strain in his art – a sense of loss and longing for a primordial state of innocence, as well as disenchantment and disgust at the corruption and artificiality of contemporary humanity. This young artist’s worldview is darkened also by his existentialism and his belief in evolution and determinism.
All these elements have introduced multiple layers in his paintings, which have been lately interwoven into his works through his use of mythology. The techniques in the present collection bears witness to Buttigieg’s new maturity and complexity: the viewer will notice how the vibrancy of the hues in some of the paintings shade off into more sombre tones in others, to convey the artist’s melancholy and pessimism. Similarly, the vigour, even fury, of the brushstrokes is often counterpointed by the delicacy and purity of his lines.
Gabriel Buttigieg has studied at the Faculty of Education and the Department of Digital Arts and is currently reading for a degree in Psychology at the University of Malta.