Approaching Preti centenary prompts artists’ swap

Over the course of the summer, the figure of Mattia Preti proved to be an intersection point both for local artists and their Calabrian counterparts, as in Preti 10x10 Taverna-Preti-Malta, 10 works – each by Maltese and Italian artists – are currently on display in alternate venues in Calabria and Malta.

The initiative forms part of a scheduled programme of events which will lead both institutions to jointly commemorate the Baroque master’s fourth centenary, which will fall on February 24, 2013. It is also part of this ongoing collaboration between two institutions, who share a common heritage.

Originally on display at the Malta Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, the exhibition has now moved to our sister isle, and will remain at the Heritage Malta Area Exhibition Hall, Victoria, Gozo until September 2.

“There is a history to this collaboration that goes back to some two decades ago. Museo Civico di Taverna and Heritage Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts jointly hold some of Preti’s most important works, all produced for each respective territory. This is the latest is a string of exhibition projects and other such initiatives that happened thanks to this collaboration,” Alexander Debono, Senior Curator at Heritage Malta, said.

The Italian artists whose works are featured within this exhibition include Aldo Turchiaro, Francesco Guerrieri, Giovanni Marziano, Mario Parentela, Giovan Battista Rotella, Giuseppe Rocca, Pasquale Cerra, Antonio Saladino, Massimo Pulini and Valiero. Some of these are well known household names; three in particular have been invited to participate in this year’s edition of the Venice Biennale.

The Calabrian artists were specifically chosen and approached by Museo Civico. Their works on display were commissioned by the museum. The selection of Maltese works on display in Calabria, all but one chosen from the National Collection, were selected by the curatorial team of the National Museum of Fine Arts.

“In a way, we swapped expertise and selections,” Debono said.   

Debono also explained how Preti’s contribution to Maltese art is “far more important than that Caravaggio,” who painted only for a select class of knights.

“Preti’s works made it to the villages and rural communities. His works are therefore far more accessible and part of the daily life of local communities. Besides, Preti’s stay in Malta meant that an internationally relevant artist was practising on a small island community, thus making it relevant more than ever before.”     

Opening hours for the exhibition are: Mondays to Fridays – 08:00 to 16:00; Saturdays – 08:00 to 12:00.

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