Ghawdex Illum Television Review of “Heritage” Exhibition

My exhibition “Heritage” was covered in the latest local television programme Ghawdex Illum. There was a big backlog and busy times with elections and the Pope delaying it till now. It was so kind of Joe Camilleri to make the trip over from Gozo to Malta and give his critique. It is in Maltese and starts at min 15:30.

This is the English translation of the programme, thanks to my good friend Valerie Galea.
Norma exhibited her work recently in a hotel in Malta. Though some paintings depict the local environment others focus on the human activity. Although she already had a good foundation as an of artist, she started again.  She started spending her time painting after leaving behind her professional career in the technology sector. She was born in Florida, living in California before moving to Xaghra, the place which seems ideal and goes well with her temperament.  The country landscape together with marine scenery activity enchant the artist and can be easily incorporated with each other since she is a plein air artist. 
Norma understands perfectly well the fascination of the Mediterranean light and the challenges it brings with the different times of day and sometimes even the sudden appearance of clouds in the sky. All this entails an immediate change in the colour of the palette.  Every composition is a production of a continuous observation and stimulating emotions, working alla prima, racing against time, instantaneous and capturing the freshness of a sketch.  The eyes and hand work together in harmony getting the gist, leaving out trivial details.  The spontaneous design indicates the formation of the environment, of the vegetation and the general geometry of developed areas such as ecclesial architecture.  Paint is applied in impasto, broad and free brush strokes, with spontaneous haste and irregular strokes like a sculptor sculpting in the same paint itself.  Sometimes short, very fast strokes that remind us of the impressionist’s technique and even of the post impressionists particularly when we see patches here and there with the same flat colour without the need of shading. In others, we are reminded of the fauvists palette, like what I mentioned two years ago when she had her exhibition at il Hagar Museum. That kind of brushwork reminds me of certain French master painters like Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck. A case in point is the painting of the activity scene at the Mgarr Harbour where among the busy activity of the boats at sea, the artist applies white dots to create an optical effect of glistening brightness. Norma’s works reflect her emotional mood of the moment, bravery, pleasure and happiness, these moments in time are so immediate that paint is applied with certain fervour and enthusiasm, energy and excitement. And we notice these instances, not only in the lively and bright colours but more likely in the brush technique. She works from different points of view, sometimes frontal. She experiments with different angles as well, diverse from what we’re used to in postcards. Other times, she’s more adventurous, with scenes from a very high angle to capture the topographic formation of the sea that surrounds us. There are other subjects painted close up and focus on a detail that covers all of the canvas such as the one of the prickly pear, the texture of which looks so real.  Some other paintings are in gouache, a medium which Norma finds quite satisfying . Some of them show memories of her trips abroad in rustic environment.

We can say that the exhibition Heritage, is like a visual comment, like an indirect appeal for the protection and preservation of our environmental heritage. Gozo is unique, it’s topography and colour make it very particular. Reckless development might destroy all the amazing brushstrokes of colour of nature.

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