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Scenes of a Maltese summer

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Typical Maltese summer activities and outings under the Mediterranean sun are immortalised by Maltese artist Marco Arcidiacono in a collection of watercolours and mixed media paintings on paper currently being exhibited. Born in 1940, Arcidiacono’s long career has been marked by an acute ability to capture the essence of Malta’s cultural and natural landscapes.

The Maltese islands are the main source of inspiration for many artists and have served as the main subject matter for Arcidiacono during his five decades of artistic activity. While he is heavily inspired by the art and lessons learned from his father, the late Giuseppe Arcidiacono, he has found his own style and his paintings are loosely executed with flair.

Born during World War II and educated in Suffolk, UK, Arcidiacono proceeded to study art at the Birkfield School of Art under Gabriel Deschamps, which further reinforced his love for capturing the Mediterranean.

<em>Fishing Among Trawlers</em>Fishing Among Trawlers

Working primarily in the field of watercolour painting, the artist has lovingly recorded the essentials of life in Malta. It is the vibrant Mediterranean and enchanting Maltese islands that fuel Arcidiacono’s creative talent and he swiftly captures the goings-on around Malta’s coast, its squares, fishing villages and more. Painting is an activity Arcidiacono cannot live without; he incessantly produces paintings, amassing a collection that is now ready for public viewing. This collection comes in time for summer and presents a sense of nostalgia for a Malta that feels distant, unbeknown to us, but many elements are still there if we search for them.

The truth is that these paintings offer not only an insight into what the artist looks at around him, but also sees him vividly rendering memories of his own life experiences.

<em>Rufus Splashing Out of Water, Golden Sands</em>Rufus Splashing Out of Water, Golden Sands

Nostalgia is a series of paintings that explore various aspects of Malta, from its bustling squares and serene beaches to its iconic churches and vibrant street life. Each piece is a testament to Arcidiacono’s skill in blending realistic details with a sense of timelessness, creating works that feel both immediate and steeped in history.

Arcidiacono’s land and seascapes are among the highlights of this exhibition. His depictions of the Maltese shore with fishermen and the typical Maltese boat, the luzzu, are particularly striking, showcasing his ability to capture the play of light on water. These paintings often feature subtle yet poignant details with figures at work.

Sense of nostalgia for a Malta that feels distant

The exhibition also features several paintings of Malta’s architectural landmarks such as Selmun Palace, as well as the harbour. Arcidiacono’s churches and fortifications are rendered with meticulous attention to detail, capturing the grandeur and intricate design of these historical structures.

<em>Laying Sand in St George&rsquo;s Bay, St Julian&rsquo;s</em>Laying Sand in St George’s Bay, St Julian’s

His use of light and shadow adds a dramatic quality to these works, emphasising the spiritual and cultural significance of these buildings within the Maltese landscape. However, he also turns his attention to the more rural and quaint contexts, such as fishing villages and the Għajn tal-Ħasselin in Dingli.

Also central to Arcidiacono’s work is his portrayal of the Maltese people as well as tourists. His paintings of local figures ‒ whether engaged in daily activities or gathered in communal spaces ‒ are filled with life and character. These pieces reflect the warmth and resilience of Malta’s inhabitants, highlighting their connection to the land, to the sea and to each other. Through his deft use of colour and composition, Arcidiacono brings to life the vibrant community spirit that defines Maltese culture.

<em>Onlooking While Children at Play, St Julian&rsquo;s</em>Onlooking While Children at Play, St Julian’s

The bustling squares and markets of Malta are another recurring theme in Nostalgia. Arcidiacono captures the dynamic energy of these spaces, where life unfolds in a series of lively interactions and daily rituals. His compositions often include a mix of architectural elements and human activity, creating a sense of movement and continuity that draws viewers into the scene.

Some of the artworks exhibited, moreover, are executed in mixed media and painted on a gold-tinged paper. This is the result of Arcidiacono’s eight-year experience in Bulgaria and the many icons he was able to view and study while there.

<em>Fishing Village Marsaxlokk</em>

Fishing Village Marsaxlokk

<em>Mosta Bridge</em>

What sets Nostalgia apart is the personal connection that Arcidiacono has to his subject matter. Each painting is imbued with a sense of longing and reverence, reflecting the artist’s deep love for his homeland and the sea. This emotional depth is conveyed through his careful attention to detail and his ability to evoke the atmosphere of each location.

Overall, Nostalgia is a powerful exhibition that not only showcases Arcidiacono’s technical prowess but also his connection to Malta. Through his art, viewers are invited to explore the beauty and richness of the Maltese islands, experiencing the unique blend of history, culture and natural beauty that makes Malta so special.

Nostalgia, curated by Charlene Vella, is open throughout June in the Palm Court Lounge at The Phoenicia Malta.

 

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