Works by Serbian artists living in Malta are being displayed at the Cavalieri Hotel, St Julian’s, as part of the activities marking the first anniversary of the foundation of the Maltese Serbian Community and the 10th anniversary of the Serbian parish of Saints Peter and Paul.

Joseph Agius’s meticulous technique and creative vision are fused dexterously into highly successful works- E.V. Borg

A convention was held at the hotel recently as a cultural and social event to celebrate the long-standing friendship between Serbians living and working in Malta and Maltese nationals. The Serb community is marking almost 20 years of communal integration on the islands either through naturalisation or marriage to Maltese.

The collective exhibition, an interesting mix of professional effort and amateur work, will run until March 29. It is dominated by two ceramic pieces by Joseph Agius whose meticulous technique and creative vision are fused dexterously into highly successful works.

His use of mixed media integrating wood, ceramics, waste metal, newspaper print and lettering is highly commendable. Perhaps his best work is what looks like a warrior in a shrine with his foot protruding from under his shield out of the edge of the niche in the manner of Donatello’s St George (c. 1415) for the Armourers’ Guild at Or San Michele in Florence.

Olivera Pavlovic’s work is exotic and impressive. It uses painted glass and mirrors, and is obviously influenced by Art Nouveau, in particular Gustav Klimt; her expression is highly decorative.

Her four exhibits are a real set that would enrich any space but perhaps the Archangel Michael that seems to be derived from a work in mosaic or from a Byzantine icon is powerful in its linearity and formidable frontality. The other works are profane and refer to woman’s physical beauty, as a nude, in a hat and with exposed breasts. These reflect a romantic, sensual and sentimental feeling. The infinite design that frames two of the works point to a classical love of Greek design on pottery.

Stephanie Borg impresses with her graphic Il-Banda and In-Naxra. Both are well executed, and since she describes herself as an illustrator and surface pattern designer it is not surprising that her work is mainly graphic design; it is clean, stylised and meticulous.

Victor Borg has one particular work with a palette knife called boats that is fresh, crisp and dynamic while the works of Michael Camilleri, interpreting the same subject in poster format are quite powerful and project great impact in their photographic and realistic qualities. One in particular where the part stands for the whole is quite distinctive.

Charlotte Dimech and Georgina Kristic-Ficur (the secretary of the Maltese Serbian community) exhibit pieces of painted furniture. While the former’s work is basically naïve, that of the latter is essentially East European and obviously echoes the tradition and culture of Serbia. The exhibits include commodes, shelves, a chest of drawers and an impressive coffer (senduq).

Adrian Camilleri’s works in watercolour are romantic, sentimental landscapes. While he has achieved a good technical level, he has to improve his vision and concept to be able to create mood and atmosphere. Olgica Avramov presents naive work representing the seasons with one particular exhibit influenced by the elongated female nudes by Modigliani and an abstract background taken from Kandinsky.

Biba Popov has exhibited several works that show a unifying naive approach. Perhaps her best works are Fireworks, Paper Boat and Dingli Angel. The level achieved shows a certain liberty, simplicity and confidence resulting from study and long years of experience.

Jelena Jakovljevic’s photographic show at the Cavalieri, inaugurated prior to this collective, has been integrated into this exhibition. The black and white work is highly commendable both technically and aesthetically. Some of her works are highly impressive, rich and strong in contrasts.