celebrating antoine camilleri - exhibition brochure

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This exhibition embarks on a retrospective journey in honour of the Maltese artist Antoine Camilleri (1922-2005), curated by Professor Joseph Paul Cassar, co-curated by Mr Hilary Spiteri and produced by the Camilleri family. The event is hosted at Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta. The exposition puts on show a number of over 150 works of art by the artist including paintings, drawings and lino prints. The display also provides a detailed socio, political and religious context to the art works, present through a series of personal notes, letters, studio tools and furniture, lino blocks and sketches. Rather than following a strictly chronological sequence, Celebrating Antoine Camilleri 1922-2005 is organised according to thematic sections that emphasise the parallels between different stages in his career. Bringing together works made at the Malta Government School of Arts, Paris, Bath (UK) and several others from private collections, i

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  • Celebrating Antoine Camilleri 1922-2005 is curated by Professor Joseph Paul Cassar and co-curated by Mr Hilary Spiteri. This exhibition is hosted by the Camilleri family and the project is co-financed by the Malta Arts Fund. The exhibition will be open to the public at Spazju Kreattiv from October 9, 2015 to November 22, 2015.

    SUPPORTED BY

    Leaflet text by Mr Hilary Spiteri co-curatorDesign by Spiteri Art Studio (hilaryspiteri.com)

    Cover detail from Self-Portrait, 2002.

  • Introduction

    This exhibition embarks on a retrospective journey in honour of the Maltese artist Antoine Camilleri (1922-2005), curated by Professor Joseph Paul Cassar, co-curated by Mr Hilary Spiteri and produced by the Camilleri family. The event is hosted at Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta.

    The exposition puts on show a number of over 150 works of art by the artist including paintings, drawings and lino prints. The display also provides a detailed socio, political and religious context to the art works, present through a series of personal notes, letters, studio tools and furniture, lino blocks and sketches.

    Rather than following a strictly chronological sequence, Celebrating Antoine Camilleri 1922-2005 is organised according to thematic sections that emphasise the parallels between different stages in his career. Bringing together works made at the Malta Government School of Arts, Paris, Bath (UK) and several others from private collections, it traces motifs and ideas as they are revisited and deepened in objects and images that he produced throughout his artistic career.

  • Antoine Camilleri (1922-2005) pertains to the first generation of Maltese modern artists. He attended the Malta Government School of Art in 1936 and his first tutor was Dwardu Zammit and later under the tutorship of Chev Vincent Apap and Chev Edward Caruana Dingli. In 1949 Antoine Camilleri parted Malta to study art at the Acadmie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and in 1960 he obtained a Commonwealth Scholarship which allowed him to further his studies for a year at the Bath Academy of Art in England.

    In 1956, Camilleri filled the post as an Art Educator, teaching art at a full-time level, at the Lyceum in Valletta and later in Hamrun. Antoine Camilleri was active in Maltas first modern art group known as the Modern Art Circle (1952). Furthermore, in the following years, the artist was one of the founding associates of the Atelier 56.

    Antoine Camilleri was very prolific throughout his artistic career with a series of personal and collective exhibitions testifying to his artistic progress, both in Malta and abroad. Throughout the years, the artist experimented with a variety

    The Artist

  • of media and he will be mostly remembered for his unique style known as pictures in clay, involving the working and manipulation of clay and its dry and crackled textures.

    Camilleris introspective nature is widely explored in a series of self-portraits which he produced throughout his career. Antoine Camilleri has grown into becoming a point of referral in Modern Art in Malta and an inspiration to the new up and coming generation of artists.

  • 1Born in Valletta on February 5, 1922, Antoine Camilleris earliest endeavours of himself, crawling in the first steps of artistic expression, are portrayed in an early interpretation of Van Dycks Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest; an oil painting on cardboard which he produced when he aged ten. In 1936 Camilleri was introduced to the Malta Government School of Art where he was instructed by Vincent Apap, Edward Caruana Dingli and Carmel Attard Cassar.

    Portrait of Cornelis van der Geest (after Van Dyck)

    1932Oils on board20 x 18 cmsSigned

    Early education

  • 2In 1948 Antoine Camilleri furthered his studies in Paris. In a period of two years attending at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Camilleri became conversant with the Modern artistic developments which were prevailing at that time. On an artistic level, the Parisian experience broadened the artists vision and ameliorated his artistic expression.

    Nude studies

    1948, ParisPencil 85 x 50 cmsSigned

    Parisian sojourn

  • 3In 1960 Antoine Camilleri parted to Bath (UK) on a Commonwealth Scholarship. During his one year residence at the Bath Academy of Art, Camilleri was introduced to the ceramics technique and was exposed to the abstract movement. Simultaneously this period is also characterised by a series of works illustrating the artists approach to the model and the studio.

    Life class

    undated, Bath (UK)Black powder colour on paper53 x 60 cmsSigned

    At the Bath Academy of Art

  • 4Antoine Camilleris family was a constant involvement that finds its way in his art. Departing from the portraits of his parents and close relatives, once married, Camilleri carries with him his most cherished moments and life experiences with his family and conserves them in his art; from the portrayal of his Bridal Moments (1954) to a series of family portraits recording his entire family.

    Bridal moments

    1954Oil on board76.5 x 62.5 cmsSigned

    Family matters

  • 5Throughout the years, Antoine Camilleri experimented with a variety of media. He will be mostly remembered for his unique style known as pictures in clay, involving the working and manipulation of clay and its dry textures which were later sealed and fossilized with resin.

    In-nannu

    1984Clay, photographs, clay and resin75.6 x 48.8 cmsSigned

    Pictures in clay

  • 6Antoine Camilleri had various studios in his career. He considered the studio as a sanctuary where the artist meditates the process and creation of art. The most important studios that Camilleri is known to have worked in are: the studio at Three Churches Street in Balzan, The Kantina studio at 84 Old Bakery Street Valletta and at Atelier 43/11 Zachary Street Valletta.

    The artist in his studio in Zachary street Valletta.

    Photo

    The artists studio

  • 7Antoine Camilleri sought in the human model a source of artistic inspiration. The model has intrigued the artist up to the late years of his artistic career. The economy and incisiveness of the line testify to his indebtedness to the human form.

    Nude

    1988Pen on textured paper34 x 50 cmsSigned

    Latest drawings

  • 8Antoine Camilleri incorporated in his works various found objects, things that he was acquainted with in his studio or in his house. Camilleri petrified these found-objects with resin, and eternalised them to be viewed. The natura morta itself becomes the work of art. Camilleri does not temper with interpreting or modifying nature from its pure state of being; he simply immortalizes it.

    The artists meal

    1960Found objects concealed with resin on woodSigned

    Defying boundaries

  • 9The 1960s feature Antoine Camilleri in an expressive vein in which movement and dynamism take over in his compositions. Wild horses, bull fights, cock fights and dancers are subjects that prevail in his art for nearly a decade.

    Wild horses

    undatedoils on cardboard 114 x 73.5cms Signed

    The art of expression

  • 10In depicting the sea, boats and villages Antoine Camilleri expressed his passion for the Mediterranean nature of the Maltese islands. Camilleri documented the Maltese countryside in a simplistic and harmonious way; carefully selecting viewpoints to compositionally fit his artistic vision.

    The fishermen

    1984Ink and crayon on board 40 x 55cm Signed

    Sea, boats and villages

  • 11The Human Chessboard series proposes life as a chessboard and human lives as footsteps. In other occasions, Camilleri contemplates the act of procreation as well as ideas concerning the principle of natural selection as a play of symbols and incisions in clay.

    The human chess board

    undatedClay and resin50 x 82 cmsSigned

    Communicating through symbols

  • 12Antoine Camilleri sought in the natural ochre colour tones of the wood a middle tone to his interpretation of the Maltese village. Squarish forms dominate and provide a stylistic approach that almost leads into abstraction.

    The Grand Harbour

    1988Clay and resin53 x 61 cmsSigned

    Landscapes in monochrome

  • 13Antoine Camilleri held Religious Art close at heart and his works mirror a deep religious nature. The Visitation is the artists final work, his final journey in paint, clay and resin on wood which resonates the artists acceptance into an ultimate metaphysical dimension.

    The visitation

    2005Clay, metallic paint and resin82 x 60 cmsSigned

    One final journey

  • 14Between 1971 and 1976 Antoine Camilleri shifted his attention to a series of lino-cuts and prints. The artist was very well conversant with the medium and its irregularities. Camilleris primitive approach to the medium offered curious results which in turn balanced his simplistic use of flat and clean lines.

    The fishermen

    undatedLino Print93 x 64 cmsSigned

    Art in print

  • 15Antoine Camilleri painted himself constantly. The artist records his physiognomic progression and experiences through a series of self portraits spanning throughout his artistic career. The self portraits mediate the spiritual, intellectual and artistic psyche of the artist and he presents himself to the viewer in a series of moods and intensive looks.

    Self-portrait

    1979Oils on wood 90 x 54 cms Signed

    The self

  • 16Antoine Camilleri adored working from the live model throughout his artistic career. His works related to the study of the model feature the simplicity of line which by the passing of time became more and more ec