My essentials: Richard Saliba’s cultural picks

No 33 | Richard Saliba, 79, artist 

Book 

One of the books that I really enjoyed reading was ‘Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War’ by Lucy Hughes Hallet. D’Annunzio is recognized as one of Italy’s foremost poets of the last century. This was not his only achievement; he was a widely respected politician who had a great following. He used his fame to sell his work, seduce women, and promote his extreme nationalism. In 1915 D’Annunzio’s incendiary oratory helped drive Italy to enter the First World War, in which he achieved heroic status as an aviator. 

Film  

A film that I greatly enjoyed seeing was Giuseppe Tornatore’s film ‘Malena’. This film about a beautiful women’s ordeal in war time Sicily, during which her husband was on the battlefield during the last war, is truly an ode to one of Italy’s iconic film stars, Monica Bellucci, who contributes little in dialogue but compensates in no small way with her haunting beauty. The music by Ennio Morricone contributes in no small manner in making the film a poetic experience that one will not easily forget. 

Internet and TV  

A recent phenomenon on the local scene are the podcasts of Jon Mallia which I find greatly irreverent and subversive but also highly entertaining, something that we needed in our insular and politicised country. 

Music  

‘Piano Concerto No. 2’ by Russian composer Sergei Rahmaninov and the ‘Gymnopedies’ by French composer and pianist Eric Satie. These compositions inspire me greatly in finding the right mood when I am painting and searching for that poetry that I try to infuse in my work. 

Place  

My favourite places in Malta are those around Buskett, Mtaħleb, Baħrija which inspire me greatly in my paintings. They are, moreover, amongst the few places that still unspoilt, where one can breathe the pure air of the Maltese countryside. My favourite place still remains the city of Rome, the city I first visited when I was a teenager. The amazing remains of antiquity and the marvels of the baroque age with its palaces, architecture and museums are a never-ending inspiration and a joy to all lovers of art and good taste.