Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Article by Duncan Mercieca on artist Rupert Cefai

San Gorg - 70x70 - 2007

When one looks at Rupert’s paintings there is a sense of identification. However, it is rather a strange identification! Although some of the paintings refer to real places, such as the Rabat Malta and San Gorg, others I feel are not as separate from me. I feel a sense of the Mediterranean and the Maltese about the landscapes. While this sense of identification with the landscape gives me a location, I also feel lost through the use of colours, through the bending of different shapes and smudges, through the lines of colour that one sees in Rupert’s paintings.

I find this most attractive and appealing in Rupert’s powerful art exhibition (see webpage). Through his art Rupert challenges my conceptions of the landscape. He is able to stretch me further. On his canvas he is able to bring alive a number of forces which I might overlook in my preconceived vision of landscapes, churches and fortifications. Rupert’s canvas is a theatre of these forces, of this action. This I believe makes Rupert a powerful artist. Through his knowledge of colours, shapes and techniques he is able to make actual what is virtual. Forces are made possible through the smudges and woozy colours and different shapes. I find it very interesting that this is not a stretching of the imagination, but a stretching of the visual. Rupert does not suggest to me how I am to see and make sense of it. At times he would title his paintings: Rahal Ikhal or just Untitled. What he is offering me is a possibility. He puts together forces that go beyond my perceptions. Moreover Rupert is not afraid to put together conflicting and opposing forces on his canvas. A clear example of this is: Rabat Malta. A serene background of a church, with light colours. Typical of Maltese architecture and colours. Then a dripping red patch of colour starting from the top middle going down through the painting and smudges the middle. Striking! Opposing colours and shapes; contradictory forces that cannot live together. Yet on Rupert’s canvas this is possible. Rupert does not try to unite opposites, not to bring about harmony that we usually strive for by finding a compromise. His harmony consists in making opposites possible on his canvas, without destroying each other.

There are two options before us. We can either try to ask Rupert why he did that? The meaning of it? Or else we can ask how does this red patch in contrast with the church affect me? How is this striking piece of art working for me? What is it creating in me? This is very personal for each person. It is not listening to Rupert as an oracle, but seeing the canvas as having a life of its own independent of Rupert. Rather than saying whether one likes it or not, one needs to ask what forces are being produced in me through the colours that Rupert is using.

The same happens with the square shapes that haunt Rupert’s paintings in this exhibition. Square shapes, oblong shapes, heavy shapes, filled with colour. At times light square shapes made up of just thin white lines. I feel comfortable with square shapes. A quick look at our architecture reveals the square shape. We feel comfortable living in square shapes. But in spite of the closeness that a square shape offers, in spite of the limitations that a square shape holds, Rupert places these square shapes on canvas in a way that makes them escape themselves. The limited spaces, the square shapes help the painting to escape itself. An example is Wara t-tejatru Marcello. The squares, while holding their squareness are bursting upwards; they almost take me beyond the painting. Again I ask how this is working on me.

Exhibition titled C, is Rupert Cefai’s third exhibition and I would say that this exhibition is a transitory one as he is preparing for an exhibition in Rome in mid next year. On the other hand, the art work presented in this exhibition places Rupert on a new plateau.

.rahal ikhal - 60x40 - 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Doris’s crack - we have those too

I have just come to the conclusion that Malta must be the most artistic country in the whole world. Whereas other countries need to have contemporary museums to show cracks on the floor as works of art, here on this little rock, our roads are full of them and free for all to see. Ours tend to look more natural, are part of our culture and need no explanation why they are there. In other countries, such as the UK, they need places like the Tate museum and artists like Doris Salcedo, to create an installation called "Shibboleth" which is just a crack on the floor running through the entire length of the hall. Those who want to know why all this should go HERE.

Apparently, quite a few people fell in Doris’s crack (that is how it is being referred to) and now everyone is waiting for the first lawsuit. Luckily none of these people ever came to Malta or else our government will go bankrupt.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Seven Layer Techique in Painting

wara t-teatru Marcello - Ruma - 70x70cm 2007

I have always been intrigued by the seven layer technique in oil painting. Apparently, Old Dutch masters painted their works in seven different layers, allowing each layer to dry for seven weeks before continuing. Some documentation also refers to the rubbing of the painting surface with an onion after the fourth or fifth layer. Although the exact explanation was not discovered, it is believed that the natural components of an onion "set" or "condition" the surface of the oil paint. An explanation of the whole process can be found HERE.

Following this process, a painting would be ready at least after 49 weeks. Very few artists today use this method and one can understand why but the idea of working in layers has always attracted me. There are two main reasons why, firstly because using different layers makes it easier to exploit the transparent qualities of diluted paint and secondly the whole process of building up a painting is highly fascinating.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Extension of Dates

Just a small note to inform you readers of this blog that the dates of exhibition ‘C- an exhibition of paintings’, currently at art…e Gallery, library street, Victoria, Gozo, has been extended to the 8th of November 2007.

Also, I shall be at the gallery on

· Saturday 20th October2007, 10:00am – 12:30pm

· Saturday 27th October 2007, 10:00am – 12:30pm

· Friday 2nd November 2007, 10:00am – 12:30pm, 5:00pm – 7:00pm

· Saturday 3rd November 2007, 10:00am – 12:30pm

All images of the paintings of my latest exhibition – C – an exhibition of paintings are also available for viewing online at

Art Feature on Ghawdex Illum

On Saturday 20th October there will be a feature on my art exhibition, currently at art...e Gallery, Victoria Gozo, on the TVM program Ghawdex Illum. The program will go an air at 7:20pm and there will be a repeat on Sunday at 2:00pm. For those of you who are considering not switching on their TV just in case they end up seeing my face, do not worry, only my paintings will be shown.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


"How long did it take you to finish that painting?” is probably the question I hear most often. The answer is usually 36 years. I rarely keep track of how long it took me to finish a painting. Where would I start? Thinking about it counts? Looking at it while still unfinished counts too? And what about the time I spend experimenting and gaining experience doing other paintings that brought me to this moment, does this not count at all? I have paintings that I did in a few hours and others that I dedicated weeks to finish them, there is no formula.

Another question I get quite often is “are you always inspired to create new art?” or “do you wait for inspiration to start painting?”. How romantic, of course not. In a recent article on ART NEWS BLOG, entitled Do or Die List for Artists, point number 4 states the following

“Inspiration is found in the studio while you are working. If you sit around waiting for inspiration before you start creating you will have about 15 paintings finished when you're 60.”

How true! As one of my tutors used to tell us, art is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Exhibition Opening

Last Saturday i had the opening of the exhibition at art...e GALLERY, Gozo. Quite happy how it turned out. Now I need to catch up on a million other things (especially sleep) and start blogging again. For those of you who are interested to have a look at the paintings you can find them HERE.

The paintings will be on display at art…e GALLERY, Gozo until the 30th of October 2007. for more information you can contact the gallery on 21557911 or 99804774.