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Norman Lowell
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« on: March 14, 2005, 07:47:40 AM »

ART IS DANGEROUS 

Art has been described by Nietzsche as that primal faculty of human fantasy, by which our original and most fundamental experience is artistically expressed in images and apposite cadences - the way we feel and perceive the world.

The ancient Greeks were never the serene spirits that the Hellenists once thought them to have been.   A streak of insecurity and strong superstition ran through their culture.    They were sensitive to suffering to an extreme degree and all this made them deeply pessimistic.   Silenus muttered that it was best for man never to have been born; and the next best thing was to die quickly.

Greek art then, like Greek religion evolved to cope with the tragedy of life.   It was a response to great suffering and as a means of making existence bearable.   It took two forms: Apollonian and Dionvsian.

Apollonian art is imagination - Dionvsian art is intoxication.   To the Greeks the former was but a thin veil covering the barbaric, dithyrambic undertones of their nature.   Both served the purpose of making life tolerable.

However, art whether Apolonian or Dionvsian, is in itself dangerous.   It is always eclectic, elitist and individualistic.   No art is democratic it cannot be. Where the masses drink, all wells are poisoned.

Nothing is more tragic-comic than the art critic trying to democratise art.   He goes about this by vengefully pulling down the artist while artificially glorifying the mediocrity, the sham, the humble non-performer, and the non-artist.   Eventually however, inevitably, true art emerges and endures.   

Why? Because true art is dangerous. It always is and always will be - and it is this danger, intertwined with the beauty of art that gives it its permanence.   After all; What is the most beautiful thing in life? To live dangerously!

Wagner is dangerous, Beethoven is dangerous, Mahler is dangerous, Nietzsche is dangerous, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Pollock is dangerous, as is Henry Miller.

The last, in his Tropic of Cancer describes the artist thus;  "Side by side with the human race there runs another race of beings, the inhuman ones, The race of artists who, goaded by unknown impulses, take the lifeless mass of humanity and by the fever and ferment with which they imbue it turn this soggy dough into bread and the bread into wine and the wine into song.   Out of the dead compost and the inert slag they breed a song that contaminates.

I see this other race of individuals ransacking the universe, turning everything upside down, their feet always moving in blood and tears, their hands always empty, always clutching and grasping for the beyond, for the god out of reach; slaying everything within reach in order to quiet the monster that grows at their vitals.    I see that when they tear their hair with the effort to comprehend, to seize this forever unattainable, I see that when they bellow like crazed beasts and rip and gore, I see that this is right, that there is no other path to pursue.   A man who belongs to this race must stand up on the high place with gibberish in his mouth and rip out his entails.   It is right and just, because he must!

Anything that fails short of this frightening spectacle, anything less shuddering, less terrifying, less mad, less intoxicated, less contaminating, is not art.    The rest is counterfeit.   The rest is human.   The rest belongs to life and lifelessness.  Art, that great seductress; is dangerous."

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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2012, 09:23:02 AM »

http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/magazinedetails/magazine/art/Maltese-art-in-crisis-20120117

Art Tuesday 17 January 2012 - 21:20
Maltese art in crisis?Maltese visual art seems to be on the brink of some kind of breakthrough, however prevailing conservative tastes and a general lack of support risk undermining any true development.

That, at least, appears to be the opinion of many gallery owners and local artists.

"I seem to be noticing some exciting new sparks of creativity," Chris Gatt, General Manager at St James Cavalier Centre of Creativity, Valletta said. "Yes a lot of it is still derivative, however there seems to at least be a greater sense of the need to explore," Gatt added, while also voicing a very real concern: "My big fear is that these artists will continue to be frustrated about basing themselves in Malta and seek broader horizons."

The fear of a creative brain drain was brought into sharper focus last year, when Malta Contemporary Art - first set up in Marsa in 2008, then moved to the Upper Galleries of St James Cavalier in January 2010 - had to move away from St James altogether, "due to a lack of local support," according to its curator, Mark Mangion.

Mangion, now working overseas, described the local mentality towards art as "still a little backwards due to the general public's lack of exposure," though he still believes that "there is a growing interest in contemporary culture in Malta". But local artists might just give in to the temptation of moving abroad to pursue their passion if a more tangible support system doesn't present itself.

"Although things are a little better now but not much and nowhere near enough has been done. I think Maltese artists need to have a more international outlook. Malta is a small place and there are much greater opportunities overseas, though not easy to have a breakthrough. There are currently perhaps five to 10 local artists who are active on the international scene and sadly not a single Maltese artist represented at the important biennials, art fairs and museums," Mangion said.

Gallery owners also appeared to be alert about the dangers of stagnation. Christine Xuereb, owner of Christine X Gallery, Sliema, complained about how local art buyers remain conservative in their choices, opting for either Maltese landscape paintings or derivative works.

"I keep noticing that Maltese are very inclined to purchasing works by well known Maltese artists just for the 'name', not giving much credit to the individual artworks," Xuereb said. The impression that buying 'safe' paintings makes for an equally secure investment, is, according to Xuereb, something of a misconception.

"There are certain artists who become famous by sticking to what they have been doing for many years without experimenting. People tend to think this is an investment but when you see the number of similar works out there by the same artist, it is hardly an investment," Xuereb said, while adding that the work of more innovative contemporary artist - she mentions Jimmy Grima and Selina Scerri as examples - need to be given the same importance in order for the scene to progress.

Like some of her fellow gallery owners, Xuereb also recognised that local artists automatically do better than international visitors as they tend to enjoy an in-built audience. According to Xuereb, this can also have a detrimental effect.

"I believe that diversity is what brings about innovation, and if all we are buying is Maltese art, there's not much diversity to go around - we're just taking in either what Maltese artists gather from their own surroundings, or from studying abroad. Accepting foreign art could lead to educating the eyes to appreciate art through means of diverse styles," Xuereb said.

Sandro Debono, curator of the Malta Fine Arts Museum also noted a clear rift between local and international artists - "People do differentiate between Maltese and International artists; the former have a local audience the latter have not and this weighs heavily when it comes to exhibition attendance and exposure" - while observing that "save for a few exceptions, the contemporary remained mostly popular with the younger generations". The Fine Arts Museum intends to press on with contemporary international exhibitions, however.

"We remain committed to promote greater awareness irrespective of market trends. In fact our exhibition schedule this year included a sizeable doze of contemporary art which relates very little to the local art market," Debono said.

But it seems as if the very idea of locally-based contemporary art is problematic in itself.

"By its nature, contemporary art is not easily marketable, and a real market for contemporary art does not exist in Malta. Yes, there are some sales, and this is a good thing of course, but the existence of contemporary art in Malta is probably best understood as a small miracle that subsists despite the absence of a market," Raphael Vella, artist and Art co-ordinator at the University of Malta, said.

-------------------------

Interesting and quite factual.
Art, contemporary Art, this fragile flower in Malta that was born in the 60s:
was stamped upon by the Squallid Socialists in the 70s.

Art went underground.
A few real Artists like Gabriel Caruana and Antoine Camilleri, held on.
All the rest, the non-artists, the pseudo artists, conformed.

The Art scene in Malta is quite a desolate landscape:
Church steeples, prickly pears and goats - and that quite sums it up.
A poverty that is a reflection on il-Gahan Malti.


http://youtu.be/Dxo0HtUNLyM

2012: Anno Zero!
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2015, 03:36:06 AM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gB-N3gPt7I


Norman Lowell fuq Sfera - Part 4

ART

Homage to all real Artists.
Those who see the world through the eyes of Art.
Those Seagulls above the clouds.



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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2017, 09:55:18 AM »

https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20170623/opinion/Hub-for-contemporary-art.651413


Friday, June 23, 2017, 00:01 by Charlotte Agius

Hub for contemporary art

Since my return to Malta, less than a year ago, I have been trying to absorb the changes that have happened to the Maltese contemporary art scene since I left in 2007.
I must say the changes have been many; a big leap has taken place. More funds have been allocated to culture, we are present in the Venice biennale this year and a new museum will be opening in 2018, just to mention three among many other positive things.
I have always seen the potential for Malta to become a hub for contemporary art, mainly because of our geographic position, at the heart of the Mediterranean, somewhere between Africa and Europe. The mix is visible in our culture, language and landscape.
Malta became particularly interesting to me after the Arab Spring. The Mediterranean region is the birthplace of culture, dating back to the days of Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Phoenicia and Mesopotamia. Throughout history, it has been a link between Europe and Africa and remains so even nowadays. Our geographical location has been key to the link between these two continents all throughout history.

But how does all this reflect in our efforts to internationalise and mix with the rest of the world when it comes to art?

Over this past year, I have thought deeply about our legal frameworks regarding art, our cultural institutions, art education at the University and what is happening here in terms of art.

Malta seems to be deeply set in this very nationalist view of art. Our art has become a by-product of this neoliberal wave that has taken over the country, a means to sell our country to tourists, to the foreign uber rich.
Our notion of art is completely cut off from what is going on in the rest of the world. We live in the 21st century, an era of globalisation, which has also extended to the art world.


The art market is global, the process of making art departs from a globalised state of mind, the art world is global.

Everything happening in the visual art world in Malta has to do with our traditions and our national identity.
Our notion of art is completely cut off from what is going on in the rest of the world
An idea that is completely outdated internationally. Our art history programmes at BA level oblige students to write a thesis about art in Malta or related to Malta.
This is also the theme of our national museum.

Recently, while conducting research about the Maltese art market, I was quite shocked by the dismal state of legislation regarding consumer protection and penalties for fake provenance and corruption that is rife on the local market.
Most people do not realise how big the Old Masters’ market is in Malta and, yet, nothing is being done to make the market more transparent in an increasingly financialised art market.
Objects looted from archaeological sites, destroying entire strata and, therefore, without provenance, find their way on the local art market, sold without the slightest control. Works that are falsely attributed or without proper provenance and serious documentation are sold off as originals; no use of internationally-acclaimed authenticators for specific artists is being made.
The lack of legal control exposes the market to be infested with corruption and abuse at the expense of the consumer. The fact that no database with public prices is published means that the pricing of art work is also abusive. The process to obtain an auctioneer licence is simply too lax.
The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage enforces laws that hurt the local market and lays the ground for even more abuse.
Every artwork that enters and leaves the country must either have a permit to be exported or an inspection is held upon entry into the country. The fee is five per cent of the value of the artwork.
This would make sense for any art works and artefacts related to Maltese heritage, such as works by Noletti and other artists relevant to Maltese heritage. However, it simply does not make sense for contemporary art works by living artists.
It paralyses the dialogue that can be made between Malta and the rest of the world locally. It denies people access to international art and enforces insularity. It hurts galleries and independent institutions and makes them uncompetitive with the rest of the world.
It hinders the development of the Maltese art scene. It hinders local artists from having direct contact with international artists.

All these issues are very problematic and put Malta in a protectionist, far right-wing light, a position which most of us would refuse to assume. It is important for us as a nation to refuse this imposed xenophobic rationale, probably stemming from a lack of knowledge of what is happening globally by those who run the system.
The world must fight the rising populism and nationalism on a political level through art.
Art is the nucleus of free speech, it unites people by shedding light on the universal human condition, a threat to the very notion of fascism.
Fascism cannot co-exist with empathy.


Charlotte Agius is a graduate from Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the Sorbonne Paris IV.


------------------


A work of Art becomes internationally valid when it expresses the most National Identity (Regional) in the coming Europa.
The greatest benefactor of Art, as any Italian artist would tell you, was Benito Mussolini.
Marinetti and his Futuristi thrived under Fascism and their works, the products of real genius, still stand out proudly today.

Certainly, Art should not join the Jewish Globalised view - the "Art Game" is in the hands of the Rodents in Human Form.
They want to globalize Art, just as they do want to mongrelize the Races of the World.
Art expresses the most intimate, personal feelings - it is certainly not "international or a globalized idea".

"Art has been described by Nietzsche as “that primal faculty of human fantasy” by which our original and most fundamental experience is artistically expressed in images and apposite cadences – the way we feel and perceive the world."

Individuaism is the Key to Art - certainly not Socialism or Globalism.


http://www.vivamalta.net/VMforum/index.php?topic=44.msg186593#msg186593



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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2017, 01:55:24 PM »

READ POST No 1


--------------


Art is dangerous to authorities
 
by Jon Rappoport
 
In 1891, Oscar Wilde wrote: "Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine."
 
Authority wants limited perception.
 
It wants "things as they are" to rule the day.
 
It wants the fire of creative exploration to go out and turn to ashes.
 
Art is dangerous. It makes people move out of standard-response channels.
 
They don't see what they're supposed to see anymore.
 
That's why colleges teach brain-deadening courses in art history. Every attempt is made to codify the students' reactions.
 
I'm not just talking about political art. I mean ANYTHING that truly comes out of reliance on imagination.
 
Those who run things---and their willing dupes---want reality to look a certain way and be experienced and felt in certain ways. These limited spectra form a shared lowest common denominator.
 
Even so-called spiritual experience is codified. It's called organized religion. I call it "give money to the ceiling." You give your money and they tell you high how the ceiling of your experience is and what you'll find when you get there.
 
Art has none of these limitations. It's created by people who've gone beyond the shrunken catalog of emotions, thoughts, and perceptions.
 
Art, by which I mean imagination, throws caution to the winds. It invents realities that engender new reactions, never before experienced.
 
The hammer blows and the soft propaganda of the common culture install layers of mind control: "See things, experience things in these prescribed ways."
 
Over the years, I've encouraged a number of people to become artists. Aside from the work they then invented, I noticed their whole approach to, and perception of, life altered radically.
 
Their sense of vitality, their courage, their adventurous spirit came to the foreground.
 
Mind control, both externally applied and self-induced, is all about putting a lid on creative power. That is its real target.
 
Technocrats would like you to believe that hooking your brain up to some super-computer will fulfill your needs and desires. They seek to prove that all invention, all creation, all art, all imagination is merely a set of calculations within a closed system.
 
This effort betrays their own despair: they see no way they can truly create.
 
It is the vacuum in which all elites live. They build up a frozen dead consciousness of models and algorithms and "solutions," and they seek to impose it, as reality, on the minds of populations.
 
Essentially, they're saying, "If we have a soul-sickness, you have to have it, too."
 
It's called hatred of life.
 
On the other hand, individual creative power launches from a platform of freedom and rises through layer upon layer of greater freedom.
 
From that perspective, authoritarian power looks like a sick-unto-dying charade.
 
There are two levels of fake news. The first one, many people know about. This is false and deceptive information broadcast by major media, to keep the public from discovering what really goes on under the surface and behind the veil, where power is used.
 
The second level, very few people understand. It is owned and operated by what I call the Wizards of Is. They say, "Now this IS and that IS and here is something else that IS...keep looking and thinking about what is, what already exists."
 
"Familiarize yourself with everything that already exists. We will give you an endless supply of things and ideas you can peruse and feast on. We will give you what exists. Look at all these things and accept them. Keep doing that."
 
The corollary is: There is nothing for you to create. Everything that can be created is being created. You yourself have no power to create.
 
This is the deeper lie. This is where the battle stops and the individual surrenders.
 
This is where the individual who could be more becomes less.
 
This is where the artist is still-born and decides to live in half-light.
 
This is also where vital energies deplete and peter out.
 
This is where the machine takes over.
 
OR...
 
The individual can wake up and deploy his imagination.
 
Without limit.
 
This is where the new battle begins. This is where the artist sets aside all the standard responses and petty emotions and, instead, INVENTS.
 
This is where fear is blown away.
 
This is where the individual reacquaints himself with his deepest drives.

---------------


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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2018, 09:45:49 AM »

https://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20171231/arts-entertainment/university-honours-gabriel-caruana.666879


Sunday, December 31, 2017, 12:52

University honours Gabriel Caruana

Contemporary art pioneer Gabriel Caruana was recently bestowed in absentia with the title of Master of Letters – Honoris Causa by the University of Malta. In his oration, which he shares here, Richard England spells out his vision of the man who was to become an institution of the art scene in Malta.

Since his early days, Gabriel Caruana mantled a strong cultural overlay from his surrounding environment, a legacy which was to be paramount in the artistic development of his later years, as if to verify Longfellow’s words “That is best which lies nearest.  Shape from that thy work of art”.

Gabriel Caruana. Photo: Raffaella Zammit
Gabriel Caruana. Photo: Raffaella Zammit
He enthusiastically recalls taking part at an early age in preparations for the Annunziata festivities of his home village of Balzan – an extravaganza of fireworks, decorations and bustle in strong contrast to the everyday calm and dormant lifestyle of the village.

He recounts that on one occasion he had personally decorated the parish church façade with 1,200 light bulbs.  The festa stage set with its carried statue, fireworks, colourful food stalls and folk traditions formed in the young man’s mind a gestation bank which was to provide the cornerstone of much of his artistic baggage.  The inquisitive mind of youth is, as Freud has taught us, the key to the understanding of any personality and there is truth in the saying that the child is father to the man.

Also among Caruana’s earliest artistic ventures we find a number of papier-mâché masks and floats for the annual Malta Carnival festivities – all worthy of notice for their novel boldness, colour and jocular design.  Even at this period Caruana had already established the basic rule of following no rules.  His work was always a form of visceral rebellion against convention, with an exuberance which seemed fired by a childlike enthusiasm.

Caruana’s art continued to demonstrate a sense of immediacy and spontaneity, typical of the acute, observational and impulsive power of the artist’s mind.

During the decade of the 1960s inspired by the zeitgeist of the age, the Nation’s Independence and the rich influx into Malta of a number of intellectual art and literary figures, Caruana’s work soared to the forefront of the local art scene and his talent soon elevated him to becoming a master of his art.

Already during this period, his exhibition of used tyres, magnified bus tickets and other objets trouvés at the Museum of Fine Arts marked him as the enfant terrible of Maltese art.  The presence in Malta of personalities of the like of Victor Pasmore, Sir Basil Spence, Desmond Morris, Ernle Bradford, Nicholas Monsarrat, Nigel Dennis and A.C. Sewter was to have a strong influence on the local cultural and art scene and also on Caruana himself.

More than others, it was art historian A.C. Sewter, former editor of The Burlington Magazine and senior reader at Manchester University, who was responsible for guiding Caruana through this period of development and also helped introduce the artist into the international milieu. Sewter and the British architect Basil Spence were also admirers and patrons of Caruana’s art.

However, the most influential was the eminent British abstract painter Victor Pasmore with whom Caruana was to later form a close friendship.

Pasmore, who referred to Caruana as ‘a wonderful artist’, imparted further confidence and as a mentor provided fundamental development patterns for Caruana’s approach and philosophy.

Although Caruana’s work continued to derive its iconography from his early ethnic influences, it was the likes of Pasmore, Spence and Sewter who further enriched his artistic output. Throughout his working life, the essential core of his designs remained his ever-present love affair with Malta’s ambiances – the island’s azure seas and their scintillating sub-aqueous hues together with the rich chromatic palette of local fishing boats.  These colours fused with those of the opulent church interiors, together with the didactic teachings of his newly-found mentors, formed essential databanks.  Yet, his work also seemed inherently to re-echo dreamed presences of the island’s long past Neolithic artefacts. It seemed that what cradled the hearts of the ancients still nagged at the modern artist of today.

Although Caruana’s energies focused on the creative, rather than on the pedagogical side, he did spend many years in a dual capacity and many ceramists practising today reveal Caruana’s didactic influence. Throughout his life, Caruana always demonstrated an instinctive need to create spontaneously, with a sense of immediacy and endless energy. His methodology is the personification of Gaston Bachelard’s words ‘creating quickly is the secret of creating live’.

All too often, artists spend much of their time constructing intellectual barriers between their art product and the public at large. Not so Caruana. His works stand for what they are... even if they evoke mystical metaphors.  Whatever the evocations, the final work always echoes an ancestral Mediterranean tillage pregnant with all its mystical legends and myths.

Often, I have had the privilege of watching Caruana’s hands tune themselves in the act of giving birth to a work… a dance… a play… a beating pulse, building forms and cutting crevices in a passionate rhythm of activity. I have watched in awe as the artist’s creative energy is transferred from his hands into the virgin clay.

Art to him is a mistress who has held his hand throughout his life
Caruana’s effortless handling of this raw material is demonstrative of the bond which exists between the artist and his material. As he weaves a thought and radiates it to his hands, the mass of clay, its inner waters later dried by raging fire, becomes an offering and the work gains a meaning… its name is art. It is as if Caruana speaks to the raw material ‘clay, be patient, I can turn you into magic’.

While many still want to entrust the future of our planet to science, it is the likes of Caruana who convince us that it is safer to leave our destiny in the hands of artists and in the realm of their art.  For despite its quantum leaps, science has a long way to go before it can satisfy the emotional presence of human nature.

Head
Head
Now firmly established as a much loved and highly-esteemed iconic personality, not only on the local artistic scene, but also in the larger Mediterranean cultural context, Caruana is also acclaimed in international ceramic circles and numerous examples of his work hang in a number of esteemed galleries and museums abroad.  Perhaps it is because Caruana does not know the question that it is easy for him to come up with the answer.

Cezanne’s saying “art is religion” may well have come from Caruana himself, while the words of Dag Hammarskjold seem to have been specifically written about him: “He broke fresh ground because, and only because, he had the courage to go ahead without questioning.”

Caruana’s approach to his work is always joyous and exuberant and the result is inventive, innovative and beautiful.  He is an artist considered by many as a larger- than-life personality, with an exuberance that holds no limits and a character which effuses all the joyful manifestations of life... the perfect personification of someone you can call a good man.

Art to him is a mistress who has held his hand throughout his life.  He once confessed to me: “I could not live without art, it is the totality of all the meaning of my life”... words which clearly emphasise that the man and his art are inseparable.  How right the great Italian artist Emilio Vedova was when he referred to Caruana as “un volcano”, for few artists can equal his vast, exuberant and titanic outpouring.

Some years ago I had sent a letter to Caruana, which I shall quote as a closure to this oration.

“Using the awe-inspiring four basic elements as your tools, you, Gabriel, shaman of the arts, are able to obtain an even greater value for air than the freshness of its winds, donate to water an even greater magnitude than the gushing of its sibilant rivers, achieve for earth an even greater significance than the sunshine of its precious stones and extract from fire a luminance brighter than its radiant glow.  From the baked, moulded, washed and fired material of clay, you have, for many a decade, ignited the art world with a resplendent radiance.  Your exuberance and extravagance of expression hold no limits.  Together with echoes of the island’s cerulean sea which timelessly laps our now no longer virgin shores, there is, in your creative opus, a magical presence of a reborn spirit of all the stratified overlays of our island’s history”.

I feel I must, on this notable occasion, make reference to Caruana’s marriage to Mary Rose, later in life, blessed by two loving and energetic daughters Raffaella and Gabriella... all paramount influences on the artist’s persona and his work.

Mary Rose’s own background in art and education enabled her to act both as critic and adviser. Her selective scrutiny of his gargantuan output together with her sincere and loving advice helped him to become more judicious in his creative productiveness. While it may be said that she has helped to condition him, she has been wise enough not to have attempted to tame him.

We know that the beautiful, illusive, inspirational Mistress of Art who has accompanied Gabriel throughout the years will continue to motivate and inspire him in his twilight years.  In today’s spiritually bankrupt world, Caruana, artistic conjurer that he is, has stood proud, but never arrogant, as an example of all that is truth in art.

I am honoured to have been invited to deliver this oration on the occasion of the University’s conferement on Caruana with its highest academic recognition.  I consider myself also proud to have penned three books on Caruana’s work and numerous exhibition catalogues and, more so, to share a deep friendship and indeed fraternal relationship with this illustrious personality.

Gabriel, thank you, Malta is proud to have you as a son.

The conferment ceremony was held at the University’s church, the Jesuit church in Valletta.

-----------------------


Gabriel Caruana, my Friend and benign Coach in Art over many years.
The pioneer of Abstract Art in Malta in the 1950s.
A Man who Lived Art all his Life and enriched the lives of so many.



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