Gabriel Buttigieg attempts to deconstruct social narratives with latest exhibition

LAURA CALLEJA speaks to artist Gabriel Buttigieg on his latest exhibition, ‘The Four Seasons – A Reflection of Archetypal Imagery’ at Space 38 in Valletta

What is the inspiration behind the exhibition entitled ‘The Four Seasons’?

The exhibition takes a bold, contemporary stance and attempts to deconstruct social narratives. Themes related to mythology, symbolism, and archetypes are explored through metaphorical representations. Each painting will highlight my take on the personality, on humanity, and on the cycle of life. The female body once again assumes centre stage in a dreamlike representation.

Tell us about the medium of choice for this exhibition

Despite the fact that I am extremely loyal to drawing and painting, in this exhibition I wanted to focus on an applied approach to painting. A merging of media was my main prerogative. The exhibition incorporates art, sound, video, and literature, which support a holistic sensorial experience. This was possible with the help of Sarah Chircop, who handled the video projections, the authors who supported the paintings with a literary piece, and Justine Balzan Demajo, who curated the exhibition.

Who are your biggest artistic influences?

I find it very difficult to separate life from my work, so the biggest influence is definitely my father, who is my main mentor in life. I find artistic inspiration from various fields of study, be it psychology, music, film, or literature. Daily human contact is also a source of inspiration for me. I cannot of course fail to mention the great artists who have made their mark on the art world and on my understanding of art, both those of the classical era, as well as more contemporary ones. Among the latter ones, I favour artists such as David Hockney, Tracey Emin, and Jenny Saville.

What motivates you to create?

My motivation to create has been present throughout my life, hence teasing out what the origin of such a call is may not be so linear. Many things have captivated me throughout my life, often without consciously thinking about them. However, currently I can say I am motivated by existential concerns which the human condition naturally brings with it, such as the impermanence of life and primitive sensuality. I am motivated by a hunger to work, to produce a legacy of art for future generations.

When is your favourite time of day to create?

This very much depends on the day in question. At times, I paint in the mornings, after my usual cup of coffee and after settling down to the vibe of my studio. At other times, I prefer the stillness of the night, where I can create without intrusion, always in the company of my dog. What is important is the ritualistic element I adopt when approaching the whole process of painting, with the initial moment of the experience, and the very end, creating in me a mixture of indecision, apprehension, and frustration. These emotions I consider to be essential elements in my creative development, together with the need to risk and reflect.

‘A Reflection of Archetypal Imagery’ will take place from 8th April till the 23th April at a new temporary space 38, Triq Lvant, Valletta. The exhibition had to be postponed due to the visit of Pope Francis. This exhibition is sponsored by NM Group, Nexos Lighting, Bloom Creative, R Lautier Natural Stone Workshop, Farrugia Investments, Andre Gialanze Photography and M. Demajo Wines and Spirits.