Water as an agent of abstract art


Atrophy refers to squandering absent, to degeneration, to succumbing to the ravages of time. It hints at a approach which can be relentless although gradual, which deforms and which qualified prospects to the decline in regular function, biological or if not. 

Atrophy also relates meta­phorically to the brain and its misuse as a result of a dearth of assumed processes, consequently resembling a vestigial organ, like the male mammary glands or the human appendix, an atrophy of purpose by means of evolution. 

Rupert Cefai. Photo: Rupertcefai.comRupert Cefai. Picture: Rupertcefai.com

The appendix, an apparently worthless attachment to the large intestine, is a relic of the evolution of the human species from a rigid herbivore in which the organ was vital for the additional efficient digestion of plant mobile partitions. Some biologists believe that this ‘atrophication’, by way of its consequent non-use and non-purpose, will outcome, by means of even more evolution, in its progressive elimination.

Just one can assert that, once we are born, we do commence steadily atrophying – the time period assigned to us amid the living step by step commences operating out after getting our very first breath. From dust to dust, this nihilist biblical indicating relates to the decomposition, as we are lain into the floor to atrophy and turn out to be one particular with it. 

Enough to ForgetAmple to Overlook

For his newest exhibition, Rupert Cefai, very well-known for his paintings of Valletta streets and their every day hustle and bustle, apart from his other figurative oeuvre, is investigating abstraction in a fairly non-common way. The launching pad for this selection of paintings and sculpture originates from the figurative, from the pure ecosystem and the ongoing cycle of creation and destruction through the company of water. 

Cefai explores the duality of this home of h2o, a compound of two chemical features without having which most life would not be probable as natural biochemical reactions require its presence. Water constitutes a significant percentage of the human body in sure situations, this is even gauged at 75 for each cent. We are essentially built up of drinking water. Earth Earth’s surface is also 71 per cent drinking water the range suggesting a numeri­cal universality of h2o as a predominant lifestyle resource. 

On the other hand, water can be the agent of destruction, and eventual recreation, via the sweeping absent of everything that obstructs its study course. Canadian author Margaret Atwood remarks that drinking water can be patient but also stubborn. 

“Water usually goes in which it wants to go and nothing at all in the conclude can stand against it,” she remarks. 

Decadence − Too Much of a Good ThingDecadence − Way too Substantially of a Superior Detail

As expressed in Cefai’s portray Decadence − Also Considerably of a Good Detail, everyday living can not transpire without h2o nevertheless, anything in voluptuous extreme volumes is overwhelming and can direct to decadence and decay. 

Cefai’s observation of mother nature and drinking water

Via his excursions just after heavy storms to Wied Qirda, in Żebbuġ, Malta, Cefai encountered the fragile ecosystems that populate this valley. The abstract designs made by twigs, grass, leaves, as effectively as pollutants, this sort of as discarded car or truck tyres, presented compositional possibilities it was like mother nature was able of improvised abstraction. 

All Hope Has Run DryAll Hope Has Operate Dry

Valleys are natural channels of water, accumulating it and directing it toward the open up sea. Malta’s valleys, dry and parched in summer months, as depicted in Cefai’s All Hope Has Run Dry, rediscover their primordial authentic functionality as river beds, primarily through the heavy downpours that once in a while drench our islands in autumn and winter. 

“Cefai, emulating water, similarly transforms kind into rhythm, texture, construction, tempo and harmony”

The cycle of lifetime and its dependence on water is starker and bleaker in these kinds of biomes lifetime abounds and multiplies through the damp months though it appears to be to hibernate or look lifeless in the stark Mediterranean summer months months. The valley beds evoke the leathery texture of some of Italian artist’s Alberto Burri’s abstracts.

Water, therefore, erodes, degenerates and transforms the inherently solidly representational into abstraction. Cefai observed this, transporting this transformation onto his canvases and integrating genuine valley detritus into some of his sculptures. The titles of his paintings issue in direction of a narrative, a series of chapters that docu­ment the dynamics of the imaginative procedure. The water-induced pure abstraction presents Cy Twombly-like patterns and glyphs, deciphered by the artist and translated into a prompting language by means of the titles of the will work. 

Artwork critic François Jacob remarked about Chinese-French artist’s Zao Wou-Ki’s late-interval operates: “They current for us the delivery of light-weight, the origins of h2o and, outside of these turbulent upheavals of issue, a distant perception of the everyday living vitality coming into becoming in their midst.” 

This is likewise evoked in the Maltese artist’s will work.

Atrophia and rebirth 

The gestural functions of Zao Wou-Ki, Joan Mitchell and other protagonists of Artwork Informel as nicely as Malta’s personal Alfred Chircop, whilst all seemingly summary in concept, originate from strategies grounded in the figurative. Cefai, emulating water, likewise transforms type into rhythm, texture, structure, tempo and harmony. Drinking water is the paintbrush of the valley’s nature, alchemically mixing, reworking and transcending. 

Where Bones RestThe place Bones Rest

Death and atrophy, as recommended in Cefai’s portray Wherever Bones Rest, can be observed in submerged, anaerobic environments the dissolution of flora and fauna into a formless mud as the template for recycle and rebirth. H2o atrophies mother nature, degenerates it into its finite factors, would make a sludge of it by means of which the valley ecosystems’ upcoming generations flourish. 

By way of this body of function, with the title of the individual pieces performing as probable prompts that enable the viewer access out in direction of choices in illustration, Cefai is inviting us to take in this cyclical and seasonal timelessness, this documentation of it on canvas and via sculpture. 

Atrophia, curated by Christine X and hosted at Christine X Artwork Gallery, Tigné Avenue, Sliema, operates until eventually June 10. Talk to the exhibition’s Facebook webpage for additional information.

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