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Art Discussion Group - Malta


Sogno d'Oro - Paul Vella Critien

‘Sogno d’Oro’ is a vibrant, dynamic and explosive expression of a romantic, emotional, passionate and expressive artist who is backed by 30 years hands-on experience as a painter, sculptor and ceramist. ‘Sogno d’Oro’ (no.4) is the logo of the exhibition as it represents in a tangible manner that Paul Vella Critien’s expression is the result of dreams, fantasy and a frenetic inspiration that wells from within: ‘una forza interna’.

But the piece that best represents the man is ‘Pieta’ – Sunset’ (no.17), a glowing sunset, a sun that perhaps has lost some of its power at the end of a dying day but has gained in intensity and maturity in resplendent glory and a romantic, nostalgic passion and sentiment. Paul in his artistic maturity is set to surprise, bewilder and overwhelm with set or choice pieces that fill the viewer with a sense of ‘benessere’, hedonism, satisfaction and pleasure.

A series of land and seascapes that deceive with their simplicity and economy are popular versions of chunks of our environment, enclaves of beauty turned into poetry with universal implications. ‘Pieta’ – Sunset’ could be referred to as ‘infuocata’ an exact analogy to Paul’s contagious passion and enthusiasm for life, nature and woman,. 

‘Wied il-Għajn’ (no.12) and ‘Veċċa, St. Paul’s Bay’ (no.8) are nostalgic haunts that kindle in the artist recollections and memories from his youth, of wonderful summer days near the beach struck by reflections of our boats in placid water broken by ripples that distort colour and form.

 ‘Marsaxlokk’ (no.7) with ‘dgħajjes tal-latini’ and ‘Grand Harbour’ (13) with a sleek sailing boat hark back to traditional romantic works by Gianni Vella (1885-1977), Paul’s mentor and grandfather that fuse the artist’s Maltese background with his Italian studies in Faenza and Ravenna. ‘Valletta Fish Market’ (no.1), ‘Birkirkara Farmhouse’ (no.2) and ‘Country Chapel’ (no.3) are more pedestrian but suggest serenity, tranquility and peace in solititude and rest.

These majolica plaques are used merely as a  white ground or canvas going against truth to material using glazes and oxides applied with a brush to achieve the ‘pittorico’ or painted surface in a blazing kiln. The molecules of the oxides fuse in the molten clay and the ephemeral becomes permanent for ever. A kind of metamorphosis. Only those intimately close to glazing techniques can appreciate such virtousity and bravura.

In his abstracts Paul excels. The dynamic power, explosive energy and passionate vigour overcome and overwhelm. The best epithet is ‘stravolgente’. ‘Cielo di Stelle’ (no.20) is perhaps the most vigorous but surely ‘Espansione della Natura’ (no.18) is the most modern and capricious.

Paul’s undying love for woman surfaces in ‘Sogno d’Oro’ (no. 15), ‘Donna in Rosso’ (no.5) and ‘Unica I’ (no.13). In ‘Nudo Sdriato’ (no.12) Paul captures woman’s eternal magic and mystery, her powerful seductive powers and complete hold on man. In ‘Sogno d’Oro’ woman becomes man’s gilded dream, man’s  greatest treasure, his vision and concept. ‘Donna in Rosso’ represents fertility while ‘Unica I’ is woman the dream, the vision: a goddess.

Paul’s ideal reaches monumental dimensions in his fountain ‘Sfera della Vita’ (no.22) inaugurated at St. Lucia on June 6th 2011.

17. 04. 2012

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