Gibraltar Cultural Services will seek to promote the Gibraltar International Art Exhibition in other countries next year beyond the UK and Spain. Culture Minister Stephen Linares, opening the 45th edition of the event this week, said this was the continuation of the project which has resulted in many local artists successfully showing their work outside Gibraltar.
This new initiative would see artists display their work alongside more international artists, he added, and this could only be a positive for the art fraternity.
Mr Linares described this unique event as a way to “open our borders” and strengthen our bonds with other artistic communities.
With 123 works on display from Gibraltar and Spain the event is again organised by Gibraltar Cultural Services for the Ministry of Culture.
A ‘Dog With A Broken Back I’ won the first prize in this long-established competitive exhibition. The first and overall prize, The Gustavo Bacarisas Prize, was won by Wolverhampton born artist Judith Shaylor. Today she lives and works in Tarifa and is no newcomer to the Rock having participated in numerous shows in the past few years including the Affordable Art shows at the Fine Arts Gallery.
This year’s adjudicator, Royal Academician Brian Catlin, said he was immediately drawn to this work and it even woke him up in the middle of the night.
Judith commented on how this exhibition gave all artists the opportunity to show their work. This she believes is paramount for any artist.
“I want feedback and reaction to my work. As an artist you tend to be hidden away in your studio and you never really know if the outside world is going to appreciate it or not.”
Having won a prize locally for the very first time, she says, this is a bonus and she is thrilled by it “amazed and shocked”.
Her winning work is based on Goya’s drowning dog bringing it into the 21st Century. It forms part of a new body of work she began working on this summer in which she focuses in oil on paper.
Her work is normally decorative and pattern based and she wanted to combine this with a modern reality of Goya’s dog.
The ability of the artist, the complexity of the work, its theme, its emotional pull and poetic vibe all come into play at the time of selection. Mr Catlin believes the scale of technique, experience and metaphoric language in this exhibition is enormous with a great variety of styles and exploration.
“Many of these works are not speaking at all to each other so it is an interesting surprise to work out how you possibly judge one painting from the next.”
He suggests there are works in this exhibition which are master pieces of technique but may not have the same emotional power as the artist who has painted in a more simple or innocent way. His preference is one of storytelling and one of real presence and here we see an extremely high complex level of work with great individualism.
Brian Catlin is a poet, sculptor and performance artist, who is currently making egg-tempera paintings. He was the first Henry Moore Foundation Fellow and a winner of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation award in 2001.
His novels The Vorrh Trilogy have drawn much critical acclaim and back in 2015 he was given the Cholmondeley Award from The Society of Authors for his distinctive contribution to poetry. In the same year he was also elected a Royal Academician.
Now living between Oxford and the USA over the years he has made commissioned solo installations and performances in UK, Spain, Japan, Iceland, Israel, Holland, Norway, Germany, Greenland, USA and Australia. He was also commissioned to make a memorial for those who died at the site of execution in the Tower of London. He also made the processional crosses for Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester on Thames and St Martin’s In The Fields in Trafalgar Square.
A retired teacher he is Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.
The second prize, The Jacobo Azagury Prize, went to Venezuelan artist Gabriela Fernandez Lopez for ‘A Voyage Into The Unknown’. An artist who now resides in Algeciras she studied at the Glasgow School of Art.
She acknowledges the standard locally is very high and that this annual event is very encouraging for artists who want to express themselves fully. Much of the work on show, she says, should be seen by other international artists and should be taken outside Gibraltar. A regular contributor to exhibitions locally she has also found some success in the past.
The Leni Mifsud Prize and third prize went to well-known local artist Derek Duarte for the sculpture ‘Naturaleza Muerta’.
He admits he feels more relaxed when working on paintings but creating sculptures have proven both challenging and rewarding.
“I am always thinking about what to do next, so much as that I already have an idea for next year,” he tells me.
Derek describes his paintings as more realistic whereas his sculpture seem to have more freedom offering him the chance to experiment
In the past he has also achieved success with other sculptures most notably his ‘Kit Kat Take a Break’ and ‘Spanish Ham’.
Another Gibraltarian and another familiar name Benjamin Hassan, received the Rudesindo Mannia Prize on the Best Gibraltar Theme for his ‘Self Portrait.
This is his first self portrait.
“I felt I needed to do one. I put it into the exhibition because it was the only work I had, and why not a Gibraltar theme. It is not just about the place but the people who live in it,” he tells me.
Benjamin is fascinated by people, getting to know them and painting their faces. He currently has a solo exhibition at Space 92 in Irish Town.
Finally the Ministry of Culture Prize for Best Young Artist went to Julian Osborne for his work ‘Shadows’. The 21 year old student is currently undertaking a degree in English Literature at East Anglia University. This young artist has been successful in other exhibitions in the past and achieved a highly commended.
The Exhibition will remain open to the public until Saturday 17th of this month between 10.30am and 6.30pm on weekdays and 10.30am to 1.30pm on Saturday. Entrance is free.