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Transcript of Impressions catalogue
IMPRESSIONSby E V Borg
The essence of Impressions, a recent collection of watercolours by Godwin Cassar emanates a sense of tranquillity, serenity, peace and rest the result of a cool, observant and reflective nature. This meditative and contemplative approach exposes a placidity and unruffled nature suggesting mood, atmosphere and atmospherics by a professional and experienced architect/planner with a penchant for order, reason and restraint. His streetscapes, seascapes, landscapes, gardens and skylines capture light and shadow, shapes and forms, space, depth and distance and vibrant light in a figurative and realistic manner in a romantic and poetic inclination.Godwin Cassars streetscapes: Steps St. Johns Street. Valletta (25) and Venice Canal & Bridge, 4 (14) capture the glowing light in the former and dancing light over water in the latter and surprising improvement in the use of watercolour. This evaluation prompted by his work at the 11th National Art Exhibition at Palazzo de La Salle, Valletta, the premises of the Malta Society of Arts Manufactures and Commerce in September/October 2012 amply demonstrates the serious involvement and intensity in his approach to apply himself wholeheartedly to
watercolour as a medium and to art as therapy. The result in less than a year is highly rewarding and has given him great satisfaction in his retirement.One of the finest watercolours is Steps St. Johns Street, Valletta (25) that captures the light of the sun glinting on the granite steps, with the deep pilasters of the Our Lady of Jesus church and the escutcheons on Victoria Gate caught in shadow while Grand Harbour and the Fort of St. Angelo saturated in light are veiled
in thin haze suggesting depth in the middle distance and deep space in the background. Highly sensitive as a work, probably inspired by the same elements that struck Byron in the past but expressed in a positive and admirable manner. Being born and bred in Valletta he has concentrated
largely in depicting particular and peculiar scenes from the city. Venice Canal and Bridge (14) is similar in suggesting depth and distance with a hazy skyline and a spire as a point of reference like a spike reaching upwards into the sky.
Venice has so inspired the artist as it presents a grand opportunity to depict colourful scenes given the nature of its architecture and finishes. In fact a whole section is dedicated to the Serenissima the Queen of the
Sea. Flooded with light not water is Piazza San Marco, Venice (12) while panoramic as if seen through a wide-angled lens is Grand Canal & St. Maria della Salute, Venice (15). Idyllic is Venetian Gondolier (6)
15almost a silhouette set in a glowing sunset while painterly is Gondolas at the Pier, Venice, 1 (8) and moody and romantic is Gondolas at the Pier, Venice, 2 (11) with a dark turquoise hue in the foreground contrasting with a rose tint of a sinking sun turning the sky sad and morose.
Highly atmospheric is St. Maria della Salute, Venice (9) dominated by the extravagantly baroque domed church built by Baldassare Longhena. Delicately elegant is Venice Canal & Bridge, 1 (7), colourful is Burano, Venice (5) and Venice Canal & Bridge, 3 (13). Impressive is Venice Canal & Bridge, 3 (10) for its mill-pond reflection and bridge in acute perspective.
A section that depicts reflections is inspired by idyllic scenes in Malta: Birgu Waterfront (30); St. Julians Bay (32) with its sense of limpidity and Valletta, European Capital of Culture (19) with the St. Pauls Cathedral and Carmelite Church structures seen melting upside down in Marsamxett Harbour.
Quite impressive depicting reflections are: Marsaxlokk, fishing village (28) and a related work Msida Creek (29).
L-Isla-Birgu Panoramic Waterfront (31) in a diptych, is a romantic interpretation of a vast yacht-mooring shoreline or quay that resembles the Grand Canal in Venice especially that part of the Senglea shoreline that includes the Maina and the
large dock facing Cospicua. Birgu Waterfront (30) together with Landscape: View from Rabat & Siggiewi (45) reveal most the artists debt to the influence of John Martin Borgs style.
Old Castle at Verrucola, Fivizzano (46), very picturesque and Market Square, Fivizzano (47) plein air studies in delicate washes were actually painted during a workshop in Posara organized by Thomas Schaller while Boats at the Pier (3) is painted in the loose style of Jerry McClish.
Republic Street, Valletta (20) and Valetta Waterfront (22) capture night scenes with a dark sky in the former and flickering lights dancing on water in the latter. Almost impossible to ignore are: Main Street, Balzan (1) and French Street (4) for their limpidity and clinical cleanliness.
Flower Kiosk, Republic Street, Valletta (23) is impressive with glancing shadows on walls and the ground wet and slippery with rainwater while Flower Kiosk, the Palace Valletta (43) is highly nostalgic, sheltered under the portico of the National Library designed by the Borromini-influenced Stefano Ittar. These introduce the visitor to a section on gardens at Palazzo Parisio (35 & 36) and San Anton (38) These works seem more nave in style.
Mdina Skyline (2), Mdina Ramparts (26) and Villegaignon Street (27) with its deep perspective show facets of the old, silent city with the latter focusing on the Banca Giuratel in a theatrical French baroque style.
Valletta is also given its due importance as the artist depicts Old Mint Street (17), Queens Square (18) with the National Library faade, Great Siege Square (48) and other images already mentioned.
Other cities like Delft (39) and Lausanne (40) are also included in the collection. Perhaps the quaintest work and quite distinctive as unique in its genre is Village Feast (33) a folkloristic impressionistic interpretation of a traditional banda playing a march reflecting the influence of the British regiments in Malta.The collection is marked by delicately painted, placid and peaceful scenes that take us back to nostalgic times when local and foreign artists painted views exploiting the market the tourist on the Grand Tour demanded either in watercolour or in hand-painted post cards.
E. V. Borg07. 07. 2013
Godwin Cassar - BioGodwin Cassar an architect/planner by profession retired as Director General of the Malta Environment & Planning Authority in January 2009 after a 36-year career in the public service, 17 years of which heading the executive level at the Authority. Before the Authority was founded he was instrumental in setting up new structures, training staff and leading a team of around 50 professionals in drawing up the first Structure Plan for Malta. In April 1996 he was admitted as Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (UK). In July 1998 he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University of Central England, Birmingham in recognition of his distinguished services to planning. Towards the end of his career he was actively involved with university academia in formulating the national strategy for sustainable development.On his retirement he started looking for new interests as a break from the high pressure job he had become accustomed to. He first published Planning Matters a collection of essays and other writings on planning issues written between 1985-2008. In the summer of 2009 he followed a short course on painting & drawing under the guidance of a young artist Matthew Cassar at the Carmelite Priory in Mdina. This course included mainly still life drawing and portraits in ink and pencil. In October of the same year he joined the first year of the arts foundation course at the School of Arts which introduced him to new techniques in poster colours Soon after the successful conclusion of the first year exam at the School of Arts in May 2010 he enrolled for private tuition in watercolours under the guidance of Vincent Amos, a British resident artist who formerly lectured at the University of Leicester,
United Kingdom where he was also an Arts Director. In 2012 he participated in the 11th National Art Exhibition organised by the Malta Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Between April and June of the current year Godwin Cassar followed an intensive workshop of 16 sessions under the guidance of leading watercolourist John Martin Borg in landscape painting. The workshop included live demonstrations and hands-on experience; appreciation of landscape types; composition; skies, depicting space, perspective; techniques in watercolour; painting buildings & trees; interpreting water and the use of photography. In June he attended a week-long painting workshop in Posara, Italy under the guidance of Thomas Schaller a renowned American watercolourist. Schaller has long been considered one of the foremost architectural artists in the world. In the field, he has won every major award for his artwork. He is increasingly in demand internationally to conduct his watercolour workshop series: The Architecture of Light. In the meantime Godwin Cassar has not relinquished all his ties with the profession as he is still involved in a number of areas. He is currently a member of the Commission for Catholic Cultural Heritage set up by the Curia; Faculty board member of the Is