Sunday morning was not a bad choice of time either; I could see the exhibition alone and in silence – such an integral element of Fenech’s works.
I was familiar with the artist’s landscapes but not so much with his portraits and religiously themed works. The latter are for the most part highly competent work but it is the artist’s later landscapes which really grab my attention.
Fenech seems to have spent a large part of his later working life recording small bits and pieces of his beloved Mellieha environs. These come as a treat to all who, like myself, have endlessly walked and explored these as yet untainted areas. The repeated theme is not in the least bit boring – for a nature lover like myself it is a pleasure to observe the different hues in these landscapes as the seasons change from our relatively green winters to the harsh and mercilessly dry summers.
More than this these works are a veritable hymn to the silence – the landscape equivalent to Giorgio Morandi’s celebrated still lifes.
It is positive to see the artist commemorated with such a comprehensive exhibition so soon after his demise. I have to wonder however if the state has tried to acquire a few of his representative works for posterity.
Talking of posterity – it is unforgivable that Malta in 2012 still does not have a museum dedicated to modern art. The National Museum of Fine Arts has only a tiny representation of a very select few of our artists' works from the 19th and 20th centuries. It is high time that a national collection of a wide spectrum of valid visual arts from this period is housed in an appropriate and permanent setting.
The exhibition remains open in Valletta up to the 7th of September. A book about Fenech's work and life will also be published soon. The exhibition will also tour Mellieha and Victoria, Gozo. More details here. http://georgefenech.com/