Linking the traditional and the modern | George Fenech

Launched recently, a new book commemorates the life of pioneering Maltese landscape painter George Fenech. We speak to art critic Lino Borg, who along with his colleague and fellow Fenech student Joseph Paul Cassar provided the text to the richly-illustrated book.

What would you say is George Fenech's most important contribution to Maltese art?

When Fenech was an emerging artist, the Maltese public was in general still against any kind of Modern Art, a mentality that was being challenged by a group of local artists, who although each had his own individual style, grouped together and formed the Modern Art Group. Today, this has all changed and we now live in a society where there is room for various artistic expressions.

How would you describe some of the most significant shifts in the way Maltese people experience art - both as spectators and as artists themselves - nowadays, as opposed to the time George worked and lived in?

Fenech is a link between the Maltese artistic tradition and the contemporary art. Malta's artistic sensitivity has always been in line with the Italian artistic scene. After a short break caused by the post-WWII political situation Fenech's Roman works re-affirms Malta's artistic roots and reflects the contemporary Scuola Romana movement of the 1950s. Back in Malta, he developed a personal style, which reflects his strong academic background and his poetic temperament.

In your view, what would be some of the most important lessons contemporary Maltese artists could learn from George's work, and his legacy?

Fenech was not after fame. His art is a genuine expression of the artist within and as a consequence it transcends the national boundaries and attains a universal dimension.

How would you describe the experience of working on the book? Especially considering how you might have had to communicate very closely to George Fenech's family... how keen were they on the project as a whole?

Working on the book was quite a positive experience. The members of the Fenech family were all keen on the project. The book and the accompanying exhibition were the brain child of Mrs Fenech who had always followed closely her husband's artistic life. Work had been taken in hand about three years ago. The book is the fruit of love and respect towards the artist and his work.

The book is currenltly on sale at €70. A percentage of the book price will be donated to The Malta Community Chest Fund and the Arka Foundation in Gozo. For more information log on to:

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