Gozitan artist Christopher Saliba’s latest collection of paintings features scenery we are all familiar with, but a particular colour dominating most of the works gives the otherwise tranquil and timeless landscapes a sense of drama and urgency.
“Red might be particularly unsettling… unsettling in the same way as the deceiving bright colours of Van Gogh and, later, the expressionists,” Mr Saliba, who is known for his vibrant and colourful interpretations of local scenery, says.
“Red is the colour of passion and radiates warmth, but it is also the colour of blood and rage.”
For the exhibition Red is the Colour, being held at Ta’ Mena Experience in Xewkija, the artist used a variety of red hues − from burnt orange to ruby, crimson, plum and red-brown − to mainly depict Gozo’s villages and valleys.
This collection includes Tas-Salvatur Hill, with its imposing Redeemer statue, Mġarr Harbour and the Nadur, Għarb and Żebbug skylines, among others.
Red is the colour of passion and radiates warmth but it is also the colour of blood and rage
Mr Saliba, whose favourite mediums are oils and acrylics, is convinced that his images result from “an inner intensity”.
“My visual compositions moved gradually from a commitment to the rational structures of nature towards the freer brushwork and spatial organisation of colour,” he explains.
He often starts off from a sketchy representation of the surrounding environment, with the visual ‘data’ igniting a whole process that often leads to something relatively and intrinsically diverse from its original source.
“I consider my purer and unconditional renderings as my best examples of landscape paintings. My latest challenge was that of pushing further the boundaries of landscape representation by exalting the colour red and manifesting its affinity to my inner world,” Mr Saliba notes.
He reveals that through this exhibition,he wanted to bring forth his environmental concerns. “These paintings are the projection of the tragic reality of local scenery which is being endangered by continuous speculation and urbanisation,” he says.
Mr Saliba studied painting, sculpture and etching. He has taken part in collective exhibitions and produced various installations and video art. He has exhibited in Malta, Italy, England, and Belgium. Mr Saliba teaches art at the Wistin Camilleri School of Art in Għajnsielem.
Red is the Colour is open at Ta’ Mena Experience, Industrial Estate, Xewkija, from 10am to 8pm until January 10. For more information, visit www.malteseartist.com.