Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Cosquieri wins top prize

32nd International Art Exhibition

by Alice Mascarenhas

One of Gibraltar’s most experimental local artists, Paul Cosquieri, won the first prize in the Gibraltar International Art Exhibition – the £4000 Ministry of Culture prize for his painting ‘Rock Formations 3’ (No. 43).

Paul has already been successful with his series of paintings which have as their main theme the Rock of Gibraltar. He won the second prize in the Spring Art Festival with his ‘Rock Formations 5’.

“I never expected it,” Paul Cosquieri told the Chronicle moments after receiving the prize.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get a first prize. I use the Rock as a starting point. It is a very powerful icon which I like and from there I try and use different applications to that same Rock and explore.

He admits his paintings have never been successful and he has never sold a painting. Perhaps he suggests because he likes to experiment.

I am not interested in selling, I just want to take the idea as far as I can!

The first prize - Ministry of Culture Prize carries a cash prize of £4,000.

The winners of the 32nd edition of the international exhibition were announced on Monday night at the John Mackintosh Hall where the exhibition will remain on display until Thursday 17.

In a packed Theatre, where many of Gibraltar’s art fraternity was present, Culture Minister Clive Beltran opened the proceedings acknowledging the growth in participation from both local and international artists.

There are 188 works of art from 108 artists. With no pre-selection all the paintings and sculptures are on display – and on mentioning this the Minister received a round of applause from the artists present showing their approval to the change made this year.

All the other main prizes in this year’s exhibition were won by artists from outside Gibraltar - The Gustavo Bacarisas Prize - Second Prize (£1,500) by Francisco Galeote Gonzalez – No. 78 ‘Fresidio’. The Leni Mifsud Prize – Third Prize (£500) by Manuel Yañez – No. 187 ‘Diptico – Las Curvas en el Viaje’. The Jacobo Azagury Prize – Gibraltar Theme Prize (£1,000) by Sergio Delgado Jiménez – No. 57 ‘Luz al Peñón’ and the Rudecindo Mannia Prize – Young Artist Prize (£500) by Anne-Marie Van Der Lei – No. 176 ‘Self Portrait’.

Judge Senior Royal Academician Anthony Whishaw also selected 12 entries which have been highly commended works including works by Shane Dalmedo, Vanessa Hayward, Jennifer Waterhouse and Ernest Mesilio.

Feeling positive about the variety of work on display, Whishaw told the artists, he had been looking for “unexpected visual images” at the time of judging. He urged them to be “extreme” as artists and to “shock themselves”. He also pointed out that one of the things that shocked him the most was the signatures on the paintings – “take them out. It is like someone writing a cheque.”

Culture Minister Clive Beltran presented the prizes. In his opening address he highlighted the great response there had been from both local and international artists from the UK, France, Spain, Israel, Morocco, and the USA, for this year’s exhibition.

This can only be an enriching experience for all involved in the fine arts in our community,” he stated.

Mr Beltran said he took pleasure in being in the company of people who, being blessed with a special and unusual sensitivity and receptivity to the beauty of the world around them, somehow, through natural ability but also hard work and dedication, succeeded in capturing this beauty and putting it at the disposal of others to relish and admire.

I admire, the great variety in the handling of paint and the inventive use of materials and colour, in short, the dedicated and careful manner in which this very diverse group of works were created and presented. The sense of admiration is intensified by the fact that you do not shy away from the challenge that the inevitable criticism inherent in a competition of this sort represents,” he added.

Congratulating all artists he had a special word for the younger artists in the community who had ventured to enter the competition and urged those who have not yet participated to take courage from their peers and to start planning for the next competition.

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