Artist Gabriel Buttigieg speaks out about ‘Dik il-Qtajra’ and the political climate

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Gabriel Buttigieg, an aspiring artist from his infancy, is about to launch his third exhibition in 2 years after recent successes in the field. The artist started paving his way into the diverse world that is Art at the tender age of 5, quickly gaining passion for a talent undoubtedly instilled from his father’s controversial ventures. He is also currently reading a Bachelors in Psychology at the University of Malta.

Alfred Buttigieg wrote the book “Dik il-Qtajra” in 1983. The book was painstakingly difficult to publish at the time as it had a lot of “negative” implications on topics which, at the time, were considered extremely taboo. In spite of this, the book was published and 3000 copies were printed on the first run, unorthodox for the time.

Although Gabriel never understood the book when he was young, as he grew older it influenced him more and more, inspiring him to do a series of works. The book is not exactly the inspiration for the exhibition, but more one of the many things that pushed him to bring out certain themes. In his own words, “I took the sustenance of the book and interpreted it in my own way.”

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This exhibition is a way to resurrect the book in modern times, as the mentality has changed and people can now see it in all its glory, as it was meant to. It involves a series of drawings or works on paper in two series presented named “Dik il-Qtajra” and “Babies”.

Just like in “Dik il-Qtajra”, you have snap shots, like raw pictures of couples in their home during intimate situations in their most vulnerable. The latter involves a series of babies that metaphorically are formed in the womb, already displaying character, albeit being absolved of innocence.

His work always had a theme of psychology. Even though he did not hold any foundation of theoretical study, he felt the ideas of rationality and psyche influenced him. Now that he is studying psychology, he is gaining a deeper understanding of the human mind and nature, very much influencing his current works. “I hope that the element of psychology comes out more in my work, especially as I advance my education in the field”.

Now having a third try at tertiary education, Gabriel has a love-hate relationship with the University of Malta. He always had an inclination towards academia, but he feels like there is a certain formality and intimidation at university, a form of stagnant conversation where everything must be learnt by heart and critical thinking is pushed back. Almost a stifling of ideas and the creative, which is why he left 2 times before his current course. I was curious to delve deeper into the current political environment that directly affects Gabriel when it comes to his studies and, indirectly, his art.

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When it comes to the recently discussed University Act he remains sceptical about its true aims. He believes the Labour Government is a bully, and has an attitude which isn’t very likeable for many reasons. Mainly because the minority is, more often than not, shunned. Contrary to popular opinion, he does not see Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as humble, referencing the fact that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri are still in government, in spite of their names being splashed negatively all around the world.

He explicitly condemns the government on their treatment and lack of respect to the environment, and on how disgustingly blatant they have been with there actions in its regard. Even as an artist, and indeed a human being, he feels that this creates less possibility for inspiration from our surroundings. Almost as is if it has become a rat race to who creates the densest concrete jungle.

The exhibition will be launched today, the 22nd November at Iniala5 in Mosta and will be open until the 9th December, free of charge.

Written by

Jeremy Micallef

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Artist Gabriel Buttigieg speaks out about ‘Dik il-Qtajra’ and the political climate

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