Abstract artist Philip Chircop exhibition at the Malta Society of Arts

Eloquent Silence by the late local artist Philip Chircop will be open at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts (MSA) in the heart of Valletta between this Thursday 26 May and 16 June 2022. All the paintings that form part of the exhibition will be on show for the first time ever. This will provide a unique opportunity to visitors to get a fresh glimpse of who Chircop was as an artist, while undoubtedly noticing a sense of spontaneity and freedom that makes his work remarkably vibrant and dynamic.

The idea behind the exhibition is to present an extensive corpus of Chircop’s work, showcasing his explorative abstract vocabulary and artistic development throughout a career that spanned circa 60 years. The show will blend two interesting features – a commemorative aspect as well as a retrospective element. It will include his very early abstract works, which date back to the late 50s when he was undergoing his formal training at the School of Art, as well as a body of work that he created right before his passing, when he was in fact preparing for an exhibition.

“Chircop worked with different materials and techniques, and explored diverse visual possibilities revolving around abstract expressions,” curator Roderick Camilleri explains. “His medium was always a means to an end, providing a creative opportunity to externalise his artistic expression. Usually, the unfolding of the work itself informed Chircop on what type of medium and technique to use, more often than not, gravitating towards experimental processes and mixed media approaches.”

“Philip Chircop is one of the earliest exponents of modern abstract art in Malta. He worked intensively throughout his long and prolific career, and he is one of those Maltese artists who chose to express his feelings rather than illustrate the natural world around him,” continues Camilleri.

In his monograph on Philip Chircop, art historian Professor Joseph Paul Cassar states that Chircop is a key figure of the modern aesthetic in Malta. “With other pioneers, he forged the way to bring a new way of thinking in the realm of modern visual expression,” he explains. “No study of how the modern period came about, or better still, of abstract art in Malta is complete without references to his innovative pioneering contributions.”

Working on an exhibition that combines the artist’s early works as well as his most recent ones was exciting and challenging at the same time. As curator, Camilleri worked with the Chircop family to design the concept and intention of the exhibition. “We had numerous studio visits and meetings, and we chose the most significant work out of hundreds he produced, also keeping in mind the conservational aspects of the works. The fact that the artist is not with us anymore made taking certain decisions harder,” recalls Camilleri.

MSA President Adrian Mamo is proud that that Society will be hosting such a unique show. “Eloquent Silence will feature a high number of works by this prolific pioneer of modern abstract art in Malta. The works will be presented from a very fresh viewpoint and for the first time ever, which will surely make it a show not to be missed!” he notes.

Eloquent Silence by late artist Philip Chircop and curated by Roderick Camilleri will be exhibited at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts in Valletta between 26 May and 16 June 2022. Entrance is free. For more details, please visit www.artsmalta.org/events or www.facebook.com/maltasocietyofarts.

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