Rupert Cefai, Naxxar Member Since January 2008 Artist Statement Why do I paint? Well, this is how express myself and interpret life; some people talk, others write or compose music, I use colour. The canvas is my little universe, I start from a void space and generate something, like a little god creating in his little cosmos. It’s this creative process that keeps me focused, it gives me the liberty and freedom art gives you, the power of creation. Art satisfies my need to be creative with minimal constraints. It gives me the freedom to express myself; it is a medium to channel my creativity.
Born in a military hospital in 1971, I was raised in St. Julians, Malta. Art has always been present in my life. My father used to work at the department of culture and so, when I was a child I had been fortunate enough of being exposed to numerous art exhibitions. Slowly but increasingly, as I got older I became more interested in art and at secondary school level I had a number of local artists teaching me the subject, most importantly painter Harry Alden and ceramicists Paul Haber and Joe Grima. Later on I also had the privilege to study under Alfred Chircop. Harry Alden taught me what painting is; he taught me that it is not enough to know how to paint but you need to know your media; the paints, the canvasses, the materials and tools you use. Chircop infected me with something different, a virus called passion. He taught me that technique is not enough, art needs passion. Though these two artists influenced my formation as an artist I still manage to stay away from Alden’s rigid lines and Chircop’s total abstractness.
A good painting has to make you stop and think; you have to be able to take something with you. There needs to be a blend of both creativity and technique.
In my work, I am fascinated with the fine line between the real and the abstract. My work is not limited to one particular subject although landscapes and the human figure do dominate my work. I always try to portray human emotions and passion and love contrasting colours. My favourite tools are palette knives, trowels and scrapers and large brushes I prefer working in acrylic and/or oil paints but works in ink and water colours are not rare. I find acrylics very easy to use, easily diluted and applied on practically everything. Whereas oils have a different consistency, love their texture and love experimenting with colour transparencies. I apply both media mostly on canvas on on board.
Balance in paintings attracts me, as long as the work does not become static. Light or the lack of it is important too and my favourite colour is the rainbow. Colour preferences change as colours affect my mood and my mood influences my choice of colours.
I usually begin a piece by studying parts of the subject matter and then move on to study the whole; when I know the subject I let my imagination loose and as I go along I let the painting guide me; slowly the painting will take a life of its own. Sometimes I finish a painting in a few days, others it takes months, sometimes I leave it there half finished and continue only when I know what to do next. I consider a painting ready When there is nothing more I can add and nothing more I can take away, it may not be the best I can do, but I know I’m done when there is nothing left to interact with.
When people look at my work, I like to give them the possibility of seeing everyday things through a new perspective. The paintings have a sense of familiarity with them, whether these are people, churches, fortifications, or other places in Malta and elsewhere. But in my paintings the subjects are seen through the shades, the merged colours, the lines and the box-like images, hoping to give a different feeling, a different sensory output to that to which we are accustomed. I try to leave large space for the viewer to interpret what he sees; there is no one way how to see my works.