Renaissance or Dark Ages – How Do We Decide?

When Vasari described the Middle Ages as being in a ‘state of darkness,’ he reflected a confidence in his age that was rare in preceding centuries. Without entering into the snobbery of his claim – not only him, of course; Petrarch described the medieval era as being ‘surrounded by darkness’ – and the nobility of…

Art as a Revelation of Human Nature

What is the currency, the ultimate goal of the art historian when he looks back at the art of the past? Is it simply to explain art, to engage with beauty, to come to a definition of beauty? I don’t think art history as a discipline has one unifying aim, but rather it is split…

Where is the Art of the Environmental Age?

Nature has long been man’s primary source of beauty and wonder. Ever since our minds were forged in the savannahs of our species’ youth we have sought out landscapes, seascapes, the shade of trees, the touch of fresh water, with the same instinctive lust as we sought out the beauteous in our own species.            …

Piety and Humanity: The Last Years of Caravaggio

As a Maltese man writing about Caravaggio I feel a sense of privileged connection that I am deprived with so many a great artist. Growing up I always remember Sunday visits to the St. John’s Co-Cathedral. A masterpiece which, even without its Caravaggios, ranks, personally, as one of the most awe-inspiring church in Christendom.            …

Misogyny Is Winning the Art War

This morning, like most people, I woke up with headlines of the news of Sarah Everard’s tragedy, which I don’t need to delve into as most of you already know the story.             What struck me most – apart from the obvious horrors of it – is the photograph that is doing the rounds (gone…

The Classic and the Contemporary II

Fatima, Jordan Casteel, 2018 Is it possible to be a successful, mainstream artist in the 21st century without being socially engaged? Has art moved on from being a source of pleasure and become an act of social engagement? Is this a good thing?             These are some of the thoughts that came to my mind…

Stalking Beatrice

A Short-Story in Verse   The Timeless Meets the Timely   The shadow of eternity falls painfully On the moment that craves immortality. Memories fortified into cold marble Cast a pall of nascent experiences Seeking to shed their wind-starved wings. The Timeless gods so unfamiliar yet intimate Are a forest, labyrinthine and unkind, That guide…

Poems From the Precipice

    Victims of Success   Nothing as precious in the star-spangled universe Is to be found, than the multitudes That can crystallise speech from air With such guile that it leaves them unaware.   The trees and waves know no gods But the snow bears the footprints Of us that so consciously tread Our…

The ‘But’ of Beauty

      Have you ever been confronted with an artwork widely considered to be a masterpiece – say Van Gogh’s Sunflowers – and found yourself thinking, ‘it’s good, yeah, but…?’ That ‘but’ signifies a lack of connection; you can see the painting is beautiful, but you’re not wowed by it. You might even guilty,…

Why I Love Japanese Literature

  Literature, just as porn, is a reflection of a nation’s identity. Whilst porn reflects a certain truthful stereotype – the harsh, blonde German woman, the sultry French girl, the busty, flashy American, big-assed Brazilian, etc – literature reflects a more profound way a nation sees the world. In France, the literature is philosophical, erotic…