Clover Mill Artist Residency, a studio and exhibition space, is based on the grounds of an old water windmill, in Giessenburg, the Netherlands. Founded by Irish artist and curator Jennifer Smith, it offers a collaborative space for critical thinking, experimentation, an open dialogue, and a gallery space to present new work. The project focuses on the process of art, rather than the actual artistic product. The current art residency, which will be held between the 6th and the 19th September 2021, will be launched in tandem by Julia Kiryanova, a Russian painter presently based in the Netherlands, and Gabriel Buttigieg, one of Malta’s leading innovative visual artists.
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Gabriel Buttigieg (b. 1993) has had a varied journey, in the last 15 years. The importance of the female body, the primordial and the mythological, tribal and Mediterranean elements, as well as the ecstatic and the divine, have always featured extensively in his body of work. He has explored both drawing and painting in various exhibitions, both of the solo and collective types. Solo exhibitions include ‘Paintings’ (2016), ‘Nudes’ (2016), ‘The Droplet Series’ (2017), ‘Saudade’ (2018), and ‘The Beach’ (2019). The artist’s works can be found in public and private collections around Europe.
The art residency at the Netherlands will serve Buttigieg a three-fold function. During the art residency, he will firstly have a collaborative medium wherein to explore complex themes related to the notions of the feminine, a subject which resonates with his soul. Immersed in the serenity and the beauty of the Dutch countryside, he will have the possibility to work alongside fellow painter Kiryanova, and with such a collaboration, the creative space for growth is substantial.
Secondly, the larger context for this art residency is a dissertation, which is part of the Masters of Fine Arts by Research, mentored by Professor Vince Briffa. The dissertation has a practical and a theoretical component. Through a series of interviews exploring the role of the feminine in drawing and painting, academic experts from different fields, namely gender studies, history of art, theology, sociology, philosophy, and psychology, will be consulted, giving their take on the matter. Their input will guide the artist into reflecting on his artistic practice surrounding the fluidity of all that is constructed as being feminine, which he will turn interpret in a visual representation.
Finally, both the art residency and the dissertation will lead to a solo exhibition to be held in February 2022, curated by Justine Balzan Demajo, entitled “Four Seasons”. The exhibition will explore the artist’s interpretation of façades of the personality and of humanity, focusing primarily on the feminine. In the works, the impermanence of human nature and the fact that all is continuously in flux will be important features of the work, as will the disembodiment of the female body. This solo exhibition owes its inception to three paintings which the artist executed during 2021. In “Agnus Dei”, a large-scale acrylic painting, the hedonism of humanity and the dabbling of the gods in the salvific process, where sexual energy, redemption, and man’s downfall become one in a warped and sensually ecstatic paradox, is explored. This painting was closely followed by “Primavera”, which celebrates an artificially created universe, wherein the mirroring of the gods and humanity is evidently celebrated. However, the hedonistic representation is clearly counterbalanced by a more menacing theme, which lurks just beneath the surface. Finally, the recently completed “Hubris”, focuses on the audacity of mortals who challenge the gods, and the subsequent cutting down to size, with the futility of the tedium of daily life being of prime importance.