Isabelle Borg

Artist's Statement

Born in London and growing up between there and Malta with frequent visits to Florence as a child affected my early interest as a painter. Now, painting for me is an activity I need to get involved in, that has a total effect - not just a conceptual but an overall physical experience. The traditional methods at the Camberwell School of Art gave me a discipline in drawing well suited to making paintings as visual transformations of feelings and ideas, even memories and dreams.

Training as a graphic designer and typographer gave a sense of structure and simplicity to my work. Geometrical compositions fascinate me as well as the classical proportions of a minimal style. Then, the feeling for a strong sensual projection through colour overrides any minimalism or coolness, and I work over simple, constructed shapes in media which give warmth - oils and wax varnishes on a gesso base.

In the latest landscapes, part of a group begun in Ireland, empathy for natural forms and the constant movement of the skies and sea overwhelming the slow-moving geology of the land, expressed itself in big brush-strokes and sweeping gestures. In contrast to my experience of that landscape as natural formation, I see Maltese landscape formed by human imposition. In my paintings in Malta I'm developing a theme I explored a number of years ago: the bastions and harbours of the cities surrounding Valletta, the capital, and Floriana, its suburb where I live.

I have worked with figures and landscape together - sometimes each in a separate context. My people need space just as a landscape does; and even without obvious human presence, it doesn't lack human experience or feeling. Also, portraits are a constant work process - I enjoy having friends sit for me and to paint them. The idea of the portrait in a suitcase came from a period in my life a number of years ago when I was literally living out of one, between London and Berlin, before choosing to settle in Malta. The idea of painting couples in suitcases is symbolic of the result of their travels, and more recently, the individual subject is enclosed or reflected by an aspect of the self.

The theme which runs through my work, not so much as subject matter but in spirit, is the essence of the primitive, an element which refers to my early fascination with Maltese prehistoric art. And I remain attached to the hands-on experience of painting - for the viewer as well as myself - that direct approach that eliminates the need for technology. Images glow best when paintings are seen as objects in their own reality.

© 2010 Isabelle Borg - All rights reserved