Wistin Baldacchino is mainly interested in realism: sharp, blunt with maximum definition even in action. Central to his subject is man’s predicament, man caught unawares in his passive and active role.
Dramatic incidents are his speciality especially those moments in our life charged with the stress and tension of relationships. Events caught in a split second yet interpreted in such a way that is complex and deep. Frames that can withstand analysis and discussion for hours on end.
He excells in the field of photo-journalism, items of news based on human action and involvement. His social realism could be termed sociological.
His spontaneous shots together with their ‘instant impact’ quality make it imperative for the spectator to get involved. Although these two elements together with the deep analysis his work stimulates appear contradictory, they are in fact his indelible characteristic.
It is difficult to account for the way he chooses the right moment to capture human drama in his camera lens.
Quite difficult to explain how one can feel his protagonists think or reflect: a continuous action, when he manages to freeze into permanence an ephemeral moment that takes less than a split second. Probably it is just a fine reflex action, pure instinct.
His studies of skin-heads, punks and hippies are perhaps some of his best shots. But he equally likes tramps, vagrants, ostracised members of society and he has a special sensititivity for women and can suggest and arouse titillation and eroticism at will. He likes capturing crowds and their movement as much as the lone person. He loves people.
‘Punk Family’ with baby in pushchair in central London or a ‘Woman Dressing’ or simply a ‘Mother and Child’ are shots that rather than being critical, sarcastic or ironic demonstrate sympathy and compassion and create pathos.
Wistin Baldacchino was born in Żebbuġ. His father Karmenu (b.1928) was a confectioner by trade and taught Wistin his craft. Often they produced artistic sculpture in their media and such experience was the first ikling for the photographer to observe his environment with a critical eye.
In 1976 he enrolled with the Photographic Society (Malta) and in the short period of five years he won the Junior Photographer of the Year (1980), the AFIAP (Artiste de la Federation de l’Art Fotografique) in 1983 and the ARPS (Associate of the Royal Photographic Society) in 1985. In monochrome Joseph A. Vella of Mosta was his kind and dedicated mentor while in colour photography he was all alone and had to learn empirically, by trial and error.
E. V. Borg
19. 02. 2012
Reference: Borg, E. V. In Civilization: Contemporary Photography (2) Wistin Baldacchino (Part One) & (Part Two), no. 38 and 39, PEG. 1988.