Skip to content


“Art is the expression of the soul against the limitations of the mind” Ben Okri

Considering the exiguous size of the island, with a population of less than half a million, Malta boasts of an excellent number of well-prepared, professional and talented artists.  On the other hand, it is sad that these, on many an occasion, are not chosen by government entities to design public artworks.  The result being that many of these works are, on the whole, disappointing and poor.  By the way, please no more puerile statues of politicians, especially not in our Capital City!  Perhaps it is also high time for the authorities to understand the distinction between high art and craft.  A papier-mâché Christmas crib dispatched to St Peter’s Square in Rome is not high art!

The situation is also not helped by the too many dilettantes who audaciously jump on the bandwagon and egoistically term themselves artists.  Their work remains fake, facile, simplistic and derivative due to their lack of didactic preparation.  Picture postcard paintings are not art and pretty pictures do not art make, nor are simplistic abstract splashes by technically unprepared and untutored individuals.  Selectivity on the part of Art Galleries in their choice of artists is therefore essential as is also more discerning criticism.

The dictionary definition of an artist is “a person who requires artistic expertise” implying the necessity of skill and knowledge in the technique of design, drawing, painting and understanding of materials.  It was Michelangelo who advised artists in their training period to “spend a year on drawing alone, and six years for colours”.  It is only after one has assimilated the disciplines and the rules that one can break them.  Picasso himself emphasised this when he wrote “one must first learn the rules in order to be able to flaunt them”.  Good advice for individuals aspiring to an art career is to frequent the Design Foundation Studies Diploma Course at the Faculty of Built Environment at the University of Malta or one of the many MCAST Design Courses.  Both offer excellent preparation and tutorage.

Now for some advice to young artists:

– Do not be carried away or influenced by what is currently fashionable; ‘isms’ too quickly become ‘wasims’.

– Despite extraordinary advances in technology which provide highly sophisticated tools, always remember that the bridge between mind and paper remains best crossed by the hand.  Please continue to ensure that the mouse will not eat the pencil.

– Remember also that it is only through learning that one can erase ignorance.

Art remains more of a vocation than a profession.  Therefore, one must follow passion not indifference, ardour not apathy, zeal and not lethargy; and always practice humility and not vanity.  Success remains a journey and not a destination.  Work from the heart and remain true to your personal creed and belief.  You will learn by trial and error, so allow and give yourself time …not an easy task in today’s instantaneous, frenetic lifestyle.  Do not lose hope; remember there is no hint in the caterpillar that one day it will become a butterfly.  As an innovator, you will follow an arduous and difficult path, for as Nietzsche reminds us “those who dance are always thought insane by those who do not hear the music”.  Use the giraffe as a model, head up high in the air, feet firmly on the ground. 

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”


Art is about skill, emotion, passion, dedication and resilience and also perhaps that magical touch of the inherited gene of creativity.  True art remains the magic amulet to amplify humanity and raise one to ecstasy.  Finally, bear in mind that when you will eventually fly, you will appear smaller to those who do not fly …so go ahead, fly, but remember to always remain an eternal student and never stop learning.

More Art


The Crow Flies

We speak to the man behind the visual art of Radiohead, STANLEY DONWOOD, about his collaboration wit...



Rebecca Bonaci first solo exhibition, exploring and celebrating contemporary motherhood...