GEMA – Gibraltar Exhibitions of Modern Art – at Montagu Bastion opened this month. There are over 40 works from a collection which includes some 900 pieces all from the various competitions held throughout the year – the International, the Young Art and the Spring Visual Arts. Works by local contemporary artists and artists from abroad who have been successful over the years in these annual competitions.
For many it was both the realisation and culmination of many years of urging to have a permanent gallery of contemporary works of what predominantly it Gibraltar’s art. The large turn-out yesterday at lunch-time of the Rock’s artistic community was evidence of the interest in this project. Paintings, sculptures, video, installations and photography pieces have all been included.
Culture Minister Steven Linares, the person behind making the Bastion into an art space, hoped everyone would enjoy not just the art works on exhibition but the space itself. A space that he was obviously proud of and especially seeing it come to life as a permanent exhibition.
“These are all the works that the Ministry of Culture has kept over the years and will change as time goes by because the collection is vast,” he said.
Standing next to Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia and Chief Executive Officer of Gibraltar Cultural Services, he said he was delighted that after having recently opened the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery, which celebrates the works of
Gibraltarian artists of yesteryear, “we are now able to display, at the GEMA, in this wonderful contemporary space, the works of current artists, including very young, up and coming ones.”
The Ministry of Culture in conjunction with Gibraltar Cultural Services held a competition to select a logo for the new gallery. The winner was announced at the opening and unveiled by its creator Douglas Ignacio and Minister Linares. Mr Ignacio who could not believe he had won was presented a trophy and a cheque for £750.
In all 17 artists submitted 43 entries, all of a very high standard, the panel decided to grant a further four highly commended awards to Geraldine Martinez, Stefano Blanca, Paul Cosquieri and Anselmo Torres. All entries are on display at the gallery.
Welcoming the new gallery and exhibition, President of the Fine Arts Association, Paul Cosquieri, was both overwhelmed and impressed by what had been accomplished.
“When I saw it in the Chronicle yesterday morning it immediately reminded me of when Mario Finlayson was struggling to get this off the grounds many years ago. Now, at long last, locals and tourists can see our local art, the art that there is in Gibraltar today. Not the art from 100 years ago. This is what we have always been fighting for.”
But Mr Cosquieri still felt that there was also room for another purpose-built building to house Gibraltar’s contemporary art at some time in the future.
Mr Cosquieri insisted that having GEMA was fundamentally important.
“We should never ignore art or culture as a society. It is great to have a university, finance institutions etc. but we must never ignore our cultural side. This is what we are,” he added.
GEMA opens to the public daily Monday to Friday from 11am to 3pm with free entrance.