French-born artist Alain Despert’s retrospective is set to take art lovers on a journey from when he was first discovered in Bora Bora to his arrival in Malta this year.

Featuring approximately 45 paintings, the exhibition charts the artist’s journey from 1990, when he was selected for the world-renowned advert campaign Absolut Artists of the 1990s to the present, and includes works from many previous series such as Cars of the 50s, Paris, Carnaval de Venise, Dante’s Divine Comedy and Bora Bora. The retrospective culminates with his most recent Malta series which will be on display for the first time.

The exhibition is being held under the auspices of the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism, the Environment and Culture, the Malta Tourism Authority and Heritage Malta. The event is sponsored by CaffeCordina and Jacob’s Creek.

Despert was born in Britanny, France, in 1943. He moved to the island of Bora Bora in 1986. In 1989, his paintings were discovered by the editor of the American magazine Town and Country and included in the story about Bora Bora.

He was convinced to move to New York City to pursue his artist’s dream. In 1990, shortly after his arrival in New York, he was selected by Absolut Vodka to join the ranks of other artists such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring for the famous advertising campaign. His work was exhibited in major cities throughout the US, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami and others. After 10 years of exhibiting, he returned to paint again in the tranquillity and beauty of Bora Bora.

Now in his senior years, Despert decided to return to Europe to be closer to his family. He and his wife Karen selected Malta to be their new home and they currently reside in Valletta, with his new studio located in Strait Street.

From Bora Bora to Malta is being held at Auberge d’Italie, Merchants Street, Valletta, until February 8.

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