‘Art is who I am’

A retrospective selection of works by artist Mario Attard, based in Madrid, will be presented for the first time in Malta at Marie Gallery 5. The exhibition is titled Pauta, which comes from Spanish, and denotes a recognisable sequence, regular pattern, or even a rhythmic beat on how something is done or happens. In this case, the term directly refers to the artist’s creative process in shaping his work, encompassing through an almost performative ritual. 

Attard’s interaction with clay, for instance, follows a process of construction and deconstruction, indicating a discernible pattern in his art-making practice. This pattern, however, is not evident in the forms that emerge from his creative process, underscoring the paradoxical nature of art and the artist himself. The body of works have been created over the past three years and some have been part of Mario’s latest solo exhibition in Madrid at Pequena Galleria. The selection of work build upon the reflection of ritual and performance through medium.

Although the artist follows a repetitive pattern of thought, research, and formation in creating his pieces, each work remains unique, much like life’s pattern and cycle, giving rise to various variations. Through Pauta, Attard celebrates the diversity of form and color in his work, revealing his intrinsic desire to express himself through this medium.

Curator and art advisor Maria Galea describes the selection of works for Pauta as a trajectory of impulsive and reflective performances.

“I had the pleasure to cross paths with Mario’s work a few years back, and it immediately caught my attention. Without knowing his relationship with Gabriel Caruana I immediately felt the connotation. It fascinates me how our life encounters, ancestors, culture and experiences form who we are and this is reflected very clearly in Mario’s work. His artistic path reflects his tenacious and spontaneous spirit.

“Our society tends to place us in particular boxes or under one particular title, and this has always been something I personally struggled with. Being a creative and an artist gives you the liberty to create and recreate yourself, to express and showcase your emotions, your being through multiple ways and layers. Mario has done exactly this and strived to keep this rhythm, here referred to as Pauta, alive in every aspect of his creative life and spirit. As he describes it, art is life itself,” Maria says.

With a career spanning several decades and a background in visual arts, film, and theater, Mario Attard multidisciplinary artist, has gained international recognition. While his artistic pursuits are diverse, he is primarily known for his sculptural work in ceramics and glass. Born in Valletta, Malta, he was introduced to the arts by the internationally acclaimed ceramic artist Gabriel Caruana at Targa Gap School.

He went on to earn a Fine Arts degree from the esteemed Gerrit Rietveld Academy of Arts in Amsterdam and was awarded a one-year scholarship to the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States to further his studies in glass and ceramics under the guidance of another international master, Charlie Chihuly. He has also worked as a production designer and art director in film, television, and advertising across Europe. Currently residing in Spain, he splits his time between the Netherlands and Malta.

Nature, materials, and textures are constant sources of inspiration for this artist. Every time he opens the kiln, he is met with the surprise of seeing how the clay has transformed during the firing process. Mario’s use of color is a defining characteristic of his ceramic work. He explains that glazing, the final step in the creation of each piece, is the climax of his artistic process. Applying colors that are invisible until the piece is fired allows him to create a unique stamp on each work.

The shapes and forms he creates are determined by his choice of color and tone. In his recent work, he has been experimenting with an ‘acrobatic’ structural concept, creating pieces that appear to be visually light and suspended despite being made of heavy clay. This has led him to develop new techniques for constructing, drying, and balancing these forms, resulting in striking and dynamic works of art.

Pauta shows at Marie Gallery 5, Sliema, until August 11.

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