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Art Discussion Group - Malta


Music & Painting: Light & Colour

Painting Music and Playing a Painting

Ray Axiaq

Ray Axiaq, one of the best Abstract Expressionist exponents on the Island is organizing a unique retrospective exhibition at Cavalieri Art Hotel between 1st July and 18th August. In the inauguration (Friday 5th July) dedicated to invited guests his theories about the similarity between sound and colour, of painting a song and playing a painting will be revealed in a happening that will involve the pianist Ramona Formosa Zammit who will interpret the composition by Charles Galea, a composer and guitar player involving the monumental painting by Ray Axiaq: Romanza D’Autunno. Ray asked me to give my interpretation about the piece.

Romanza D'Autunno

Romanza d’Autunno is an acute polarity, a reflection on life, as it is a fusion of opposites, of tragedy and comedy, as in actuality. The dynamics demonstrate a deep instability reflecting perhaps a bipolar character that is fragile, vulnerable and exposed to swings of mood. On top left hand corner there is almost an unrestrained joy and festive, a mood or atmosphere dominated by a great flower, exotic and overwhelming. On bottom left hand corner a gruesome tragedy unfurls in front of our eyes with a horrid phantasmagorical effect: torn limbs lying around, a dismembered torso and a decapitated head suggesting the atrocious pain in Picasso’s Guernica. On bottom right a whirlpool or vortex and like a black whole sucks and engulfs the sun, the moon and star, a cataclysmic end that threatens life and perhaps our very existence. The turbulence and instability are felt in the dynamics of a landscape an element that surfaces from the artist’s recent past abstract expressionism. Past and present fuse together’.

Ray’s University M.A. studies have involved a team made up of Charles Galea (composer), Matthew Galea (Ph.D) in digital art, Ramona Formosa Zammit (a pianist) and the author in his role as art critic. The actual exhibition presents two facets of Ray’s art: the recent past, work exhibited at La Valette VIP Club Lounge, MIA and at Skyparks Business Centre, MIA. In such work the artist reveals an unbridled freedom and liberty, an instinctive and unfettered abstract idiom, a language redolent with emotion, sentiment and feeling. An abstract expression demonstrating a love of the land, of abstracted landscape.

In his recent work painted in 2019 he is trying to prove that the musical code he invented to substitute the traditional music score is easier and much more pleasurable to play especially by children. The code which is primarily made of geometric shapes and tones of colour is either integrated within a painting or as in Romanza D’Autunno painted on a related but separate canvas; in its own stead, a creative work. On the other hand he is insisting that a musical composition can be transformed into a painting.

The exhibition presents a vigorous contrast between the recent past and the present work as Ray had to compromise his spontaneous action painting to produce compositions that can be transformed into music. The exhibition includes a triptych the result of team-work between Ray’s lecturer Antonio Molliconi (an architect by profession) who produced a computer generated digital print of a design of the elliptical Grand Master’s Palace staircase freely, imaginatively and manually coloured by the artist on barypa paper.

Being a rebel Ray’s priority is his liberty and freedom of expression. “I feel that abstraction cannot be rationally interpreted, but that it absolutely speaks to you through your intuition. For me, art, like music, needs to communicate but not necessarily be understood”. Ray almost implies that his work is automatic gestures and reflexes. It is an attempt at action painting or better still a fusion of de Staël’s and Pollock’s techniques. Such statement refers to the work done some years previous to this exhibition.

‘His language need not be understood but his calligraphy can be read. If it is not rational and if it does not make sense it is no problem because if art is a reflection of life it need hardly be understood. As if the land (landscape) can be understood in its beauty, mystery and enigma! The land is sacred if it is untainted, unravished, untouched and such it is a prayer and a blessing. The understanding lies in the therapy and healing as a mother her child. Man needs wisdom to feel the soothing balm and gentle caress of nature. He will then understand the incomprehensible’.

The love of the land is as sacred as much as the profound love of man’s artistic expression: music, dance, drama, painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry and literature. These caress, heal and educate. They change, transform and stimulate growth. These are the opposite of a stagnant existence. They are our life, the air we breathe, our collective wisdom, our explorative search for the truth, for the absolute.

E. V. Borg


Title: Music & Painting: Light & Colour – Painting Music & Playing a Painting.

Artist: Ray Axiaq

Venue: Cavalieri Art Hotel, Renoir Gallery, Spinola Road, St. Julians

Duration: 1 July – 18 August, open 24 hrs.