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Art Discussion Group - Malta



Studies by Patrick Scicluna

Sensual and sentimental Patrick Scicluna paints exotic images of a personal realism at once incredible and fabulous. His dreamy softness and warmth achieve a sense of evocative nostalgia: moody, romantic and contagious. Unpretentious and unpresumptuous he regards Turner as his mentor and declares himself self-taught.

His subjective realism is atmospheric, a kind of suffused, misty ‘sfumato’ that creates a certain melancholy at the thought that such physical, tangible and palpable beauty must fade with death, that it is ephemeral, temporal and continually changing. A sigh of relief escapes the observer at the notion that such physical images are not real but mere illusion.

Real or illusion ‘Għalluq’, a lad dragging a net to catch special bait is a climax of virtual poetry and beauty. The lad’s movement in repose does not intrude or disturb the melting, shimmering light on water or the incandescent particles of light vibrating and trembling in soft clouds. The sky with tremulous silver light is worthy of a Tintoretto while the frozen subject is out of a Vermeer. The dying light falling on the lad’s straw hat and linen shirt refract splendidly with an incredible warm joy and an inexplicable acute sadness. What nostalgia!

In ‘Simar’ the same lad wades immersed in an endless and futile search in reeds and is oblivious of the beauty of dusk gradually settling on the land and invading the sky and the warm light caught on the reeds and setting them alight. The mitigated light is fading imperceptibly and the lad’s hat though lit is fading gradually and inexorably like a time-switch into the night, into darkness. ’Simar’ in its sentimental appeal has an affinity with Millet’s ‘Angelus’ (1857-9) at the Louvre.

‘Sera’ in bikini is more real and tangible than actuality but the secret is the mystery, myth and magic evoked. The artist through suggestion creates a spiritual reality. The contrast between the tangible body and silky shiny skin of the model and her soft dark shadow on the wall behind her is overwhelming, almost intimidating in its ghostly presence and undoubtedly a virtuoso bravura in competition with Vermeer in a modern stance.

‘Meja’ crouching in shorts and splashing in the water is rendered with broken and stippled blobs of steely blues as in the Impressionist and Pointillist techniques of rendering shadows in violet hues. This youth with marvelous, trailing, shiny tresses of brown hair is an idyll of celestial bliss – a carefree and relaxed moment of bliss (‘otium’).

The stones, rocks and boulders and rippled waters are almost surreal in their acute and meticulous similitude.

‘Il-Magħluq’ is a scene from Canaletto with a canoe and its reflection in the still waters, with weeds and reeds in a shallow lagoon-like habitat. The atmosphere is superb and the silence and reverie evoked is awesome and sublime.

The atmospherics and ‘sfumato’ in his figurative work is also omnipresent in his moody abstracts with flaming wild reds in emerald green, orange and yellow hues. The contrast in some is astounding, surprising while in others the melting, suffused element is nostalgic, sentimental and romantic.

E.V. Borg