Mind over Matter

by Astrid Vella

Astrid Vella finds out how Cedric Galea Pirotta manages to create incredible textural effects

With such a wealth of good art being produced al the time, any critic short of the most complacent one must ask himself "What is good art, and who am I to pass judgement or dismiss one from another?"

Eliminating the mediocre is not difficult, but just as there are different standards, there are different styles, and the question of whether one is more valid than another is a major issue. 

Cedric Galea Pirotta's style of painstaking realism is one that went out of favour once it was replaced by the invention of photography which could score higher on the realism stakes. It was from this need to differentiate from photography that Impressionism evolved. Mr Galea Pirotta apperently doesn't feel that need, as some of his works, such as his long Harbour Views have a photographic quality that can easily be mistaken for 1920's black and white photographs, sharing the same "time stood still" aura that some of these photos excude.

This is a style loved by those who feel uncomfortable with anything that smacks, even distantly, of modernism. Mr Galea Pirotta's forte is his amazing drawing skill, a pre-necessity for any artist worth his salt. It really is a question of mind over matter, as, with no more than a pen and wash and a steady hand, he succeeds in creating incredible textural effects such a that seen in his Il-Lukkett. The temptation to touch this painting is irresistible, as the contours of wood and stone create a very convincing three-dimensional effect.

Aged stone, eroded by wind and time really is Mr Galea Pirotta's first love. Looking as his paintngs over and over again, it's hard to believe how he succeeds in reproducing with literally millions of fine strokes, every crevice and cavity of old, wind-eroded stone. In his Bieb ta' l-Imdina he combines the perfect reproduction of stone with his unerring draughtsmanship, building up a composition that is a perspective nightmare - and pulls it off! The end result is quietly stunning, and all the more so for being handled only in black and white.

Other works like Zewg Gallarijiet are simpler, but more poetic, with the two balconies keeping each other company, the austere lines of the stonework softened by the fluidity of the beautiful art nouveau. 

In certain, Mr Galea Pirotta's handling of colour shows that he does not wish to distract from the essential lines. However where he does use full colour, it is with a certain timidity and a palette that is too limited to be convincing. Similarly, his experiments with a newer , freer style are laudible, but not quite there yet.

Having said that, when this artist ventures off the beaten track, sway from the picture-postcard views to more off-beat corners and angles, Mr Galea Pirotta really shows hints of virtousity which we will hopefully see more of in god time.  



Featured Painting :

Bieb ta' l-Imdina Dettall (Pen and Ink)