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Phallic’ art sparks row ahead of Pope’s Malta visit

The mayor of a town in Malta has called for a “phallic” sculpture displayed close to the main airport to be removed ahead of the Pope’s visit this weekend.

Mayor John Schembri described the art work as “vulgar” and “embarrassing”, saying it should go “as a sign of respect” for Pope Benedict XVI. Colonna Mediterranea was created by artist Paul Vella Critien and has been on show in the town of Luqa since 2006. Mr Critien responded by calling his critics “ignorant” and “uneducated”…

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Anime delle terre

Exhibition of Ceramic sculptures by Paul Vella Critien

25th April, 2009 – 9th May, 2009
Maltese Society of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce
Palazzo De La Salle
219, Republic Street

See the picture Gallery of the Exhibition

On Saturday 25th April, an art exhibition by the Maltese artist Paul Vella Critien will be inaugurated at the Malta Society of Arts, Manufacture & Commerce, Republic Street, Valletta.The theme “Anime delle Terre” consists of a collection of around 25 pieces in ceramics which were produced during the last 16 months. This is the twelfth personal art show that the artist has organized in Malta and Europe. In this particular exhibition, the exhibits will be of small and large sizes, a mixture of contemporary compositions. In a personal way, the artist will be viewing developed techniques in Maiolica, Stoneware and Engobes colours. This collection is based on the spirit and effects of Planet Earth, a combination to demonstrate his love and deep passionate belief in natural forms, colour and texture.

Paul’s recent works are bold, expressive ceramic sculptures that the artist has evolved in ancient raw materials into modern idoms, full of passion derived from universal forms. Most of the works are a balance of structural engineering methods, techniques that manifest the vast experience he has acquired during his studies with renowned sculptores such as Prof. A. Biancini and Prof. C. Zauli, winners of prestigious world art prizes such as the Venice Biennale in sculpture and ceramic art competitions in Faenza, Italy. Paul completed his studies in 1982, graduating B.A., M.A. (FINE ART), Faenza, RA, Italy. During the last 30 years, Paul has exhibited his works in important art galleries in Europe, Australia and USA. His works are an expression of great ability, depth and originality with endless energy, a monumental technological force with unique artistic styles and freedom. “Elementi Liberi” is an abstract mural, an alto relief finished in salt glazes of blue and bronze. The sphere collection, three pieces in all, are 3-dimensional sculptures portraying aspects of changing effects, decorated in different methods, with powerful contrast and technical expertise. This series of sculptures (40cm x 40cm) are without a doubt the focal expressions for this art show, and the continuation of a long process he had already put on view at Auberge d’Italie with his Sphera I exhibited in 2005. Two ceramic base reliefs, “Summer Sunset I and II” simplified to create light and effect with great simplicity of our local characteristics. “Bimbo” and “Bimba”, are two stylised sculptures produced by one of Paul’s favourite methods, spontaneously building and modelling his composition at the same time, a technique that requires great skill and experience in ceramics engineering. His figurative works are his Forte, a combination of natural and great academic training and of creative ability. “Mother of God”, a freestanding sculpture (70cm) glazed in metallic bronze is an expression of faith and humility, leaning towards the viewer. This magnificent art piece, was made by what the artist calls “Alla Prima Tecnica”. Most of his completed works are made using this method.

Paul Vella Critien was commissioned several public ceramic monuments in Malta, Europe and Australia, in this forthcoming exhibition Paul shall once again manifest his artistic bravura and unique creativity, proving his international repute and success in recent years.

Prof. A. Bellendi

See the picture Gallery of the Exhibition

Exhibition of ceramic sculpture by Paul Vella Critien

Merchant Street, Valletta

In collaboration with the ministry of tourism and Culture, I will be presenting a collection of my ceramic art works during the months of December and January. This event will be held on Saturday,17th December, and will be inaugurated by the Minister of Culture, HON. DR. F. ZAMMIT DIMECH, AT 7.30 PM.

On show, 32 pieces, mostly made during the last three years. All works on show are made of ceramics, some are 3 dimensional, and others are ceramics plaques. Various ceramics techniques have been used, such as Stoneware, Maiolica, engobes, and third firings colours.

Paul loves and celebrates life. He adores woman and glorifies her beauty. Woman’s perpetual spell inspires him with artistic madness. He exults in the mystery, magic and enigma of woman and with exuberant enthusiasm and prodigal effort sings her praises with élan vital and joie de vivre.

With intense feeling he expresses her fragile and vulnerable nature, her sensual and erotic disposition, her maternal and creative energy. He captures her charm. He is bewildered by her poise, elegant, delicate and graceful dynamic force. He is awed by her powers of seduction. He believes as Michelangelo and Delacroix in woman as life and death, as alpha and omega, as the beginning and end.

‘Futura’ is an evocation of maternal fullness, of curvaceous and sinuous forms, of erotic feeling, of bulbous full breasts that suckle mankind on a rivulet of milk, on the nutritious honey of her love, care, attention and concern. In a paean of feeling he expresses her moods: languid or sanguine, joyful or sad, intensely tragic or merely romantic and sentimental.

Paul projects woman as a nostalgic dreamer, titillating siren, enchanting seductress, explosive temptress, piteous victim and conquering heroine. Paul is an artist of mood, of deep emotional feeling, of acute fantasy and powerful and forceful expression. He projects an art of explosive, unbounded energy.

Paul is a lover of nature, of life, of landscape, of forms, colours and light. The plaques of ‘Porta Portese, Roma’ and ‘Peschiera di Valletta’ are demonstrations of technical bravura and virtuosity. The majolica rendition of the ‘Peschiera’ is a simulation of a watercolour sketch, of wet on wet. The ‘Porta Portese’ is a vibrant expressionist idiom in ‘chiaroscuro’ and a definition of black linear rhythms.

The plates are wonderful modern evocations of expressionist bursts of colour. Characteristic is ‘Tsunami’ an impression of an apocalyptic natural catastrophe that has shocked the world while ‘Riflessi di Marsaxlokk’ is a study in dreamy nostalgia and ‘benessere’, a study in equanimity, effortlessness or ‘disinvoltura’. ‘Luce della Natura’ is vibrant forceful and powerful.

Paul exults in life and nature, in woman and her wiles with the engaging enthusiasm of a child, with contagious exuberance and enthusiasm, with the awe, surprise and astonishment of primordial man. He is so awed and stunned by the mystery and magic in life that the boundless joy shown at the scientific and technological exploration of Saturn’s moon, Titan pales into insignificance.


Paul Vella Chretien was born in 1960. At an early age Paul started his artistic career drawing and painting with his grandfather Gianni Vella, at one of his studio’s in Mosta. During the same period he joined the Malta School of Art with Censu Apap and Esprit Barthet respectively. For three years he had acquired good skills in the field of ceramics under John Bonnici and Gabriel Caruana receiving the School Diploma.

In 1978, he was recommended by the Education Department and awarded a five year scholarship by the Italian Government to specialize in Fine Art at the renowned “Gaetano Ballardini” Institute of Art & Ceramics, at Faenza,(RA), Italy. During his studies abroad, Paul studied under various artists such as Prof Angelo Biancini, (winner of the 1940 Venice Biennale & Premio Faenza 1946,1957) and Prof G. Mariani (Premio Faenza 1980) and other experts in the art of ceramics & painting. Paul graduated in 1982, obtaining his Master’s degree in Fine Art, specializing in various ceramics techniques including restoration. In 1977, he was awarded a certificate of Merit for his art work at the London Art Exhibition, held at the Tate gallery in London. Since then, his participation in various art competitions was regular, in fact in 1980 his work had already been chosen to be on show amongst the best ceramists of the world, at the International Art Competition of Faenza, Italy. For many years his work was accepted and exhibited in important art galleries in Europe, Australia and the USA. Paul’s work is found in many private collections and museums around the world. Presently he is completing a 7 meter ceramic monument commissioned by the San Gwann local council which will be inaugurated later this year.

With great patience and involvement towards his art, the result is not only highly commendable and successful but also quite astonishing.

Prof. A. Bellendi – Florence