Stefan Spiteri ‘On the Nature of Painting’

Quadrat 1 Stefan Spiteri

We reached out to emerging artist Stefan Spiteri after visiting his exceptional ongoing solo exhibition ‘On the Nature of Painting’ at Valletta Contemporary. This extremely promising artist tells us  what was this body of work  inspired from and the creative process involved.

Quadrat 1 Stefan Spiteri
'Quadrat 1', Stefan Spiteri, 2021, oil on panel, 40 x 32 cm.

‘On the Nature of Painting’ is your first solo exhibition at Valletta Contemporary. What body/bodies of work should the viewer expect to see?

The show offers a series of eleven layered and contemplative paintings, the works are ambiguous in their meaning and perception, they are the kind of paintings that draw you in. Even though, it’s not my role to dictate what the viewer’s reaction should be.  Ideally the show offers, even if for a few minutes, a mindful experience, where the focus is just on the work and nothing else. Ideally the paintings provide the viewer with a similar energy that was harnessed throughout the production process, that of quiet and reflection.

Quadrat 5 Stefan Spiteri
'Quadrat 5', Stefan Spiteri, 2021, oil on panel, 42 x 34 cm.

Can you say more about painting as your preferred mode of artistic expression? What do you think is the role of painting in a contemporary context?

Just like in any other language or medium within contemporary art, the role of the painter today is to continually seek out the truth within (whatever shape or form it comes in) and express it in the most untainted way possible. Long ago, it may have been the role of the artist/painter to give moral instruction, but today we can no longer assume a single cultural context of moral interpretation. Even though my works seem to refer to the natural world, the role of these paintings is not to help the viewer identify a grand design but to make him aware of the subtle disorder present around us, which might have otherwise gone unnoticed.  Ultimately, these paintings do not allude to any specific moral themes, yet it is up to the viewer to take upon himself an active role, to provide a perspective and give this body of work meaning.

Quadrat 7 Stefan Spiteri
'Quadrat 7', Stefan Spiteri, 2021, oil on panel, 42 x 34 cm.

You are often inspired by elements in the natural world. Flowers, trees and other organisms appear in your work. Why do you draw so much from nature?

The concept of the painter as one who observes and represents ‘nature’ is nothing new, this has been a reoccurring feature of human history. As a result my way of seeing the natural world is inevitably influenced by a rich history of pre-conceived notions and continuously evolving ideas. Even though I am acknowledging the presence of the natural world in my paintings, I do not consider these works as ‘paintings of nature’. The latter derives from a deeply rooted conviction in me, that a painting, an artificial construction is miniscule to the intricate and complex networks found in the natural world.  Looking out helps me recognize the nature within. Subsequently, I extract proportions from the natural world and reassemble them in my work. Through this body of work I am questioning what the natural word could teach me about the painting process. Even though I am using the natural world to my advantage here, I don’t believe the natural world is something that can be possessed, but a source to follow and learn from.

Time to look back and look forward: How would you say your practice has evolved over these past years and where do you see it going?

Painting as a practice goes beyond any linguistic description, the truth is that I cannot control what I speak about in my work, I cannot force emotions, these just come and go. The work as a process is a response to social, political and natural contexts. All I can do as a painter is to surrender to the medium and let it follow its desired path. What truly attracts me to painting is its power to evolve and adapt. Moreover the medium’s ability to surprise me with new possibilities each day is truly compelling. As a result my practice is fuelled by the pursuit of the endless possibilities of painting. Who knows what the future might bring? All I have to do is listen to the medium while hoping, that it will eventually lead me towards the right direction.

The exhibition will run till the 14th August at Valletta Contemporary. Make sure to drop by!

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *