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47th Gibraltar International Art Competition: Art Without Borders, Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery

Rosario Pérez | Photos: Fran Montes, ReachExtra

Nearly 100 artists took part in the 47th Gibraltar International Art Competition this year, with Spanish painter Fermín García Villaescusa claiming first prize.

“Abstract Popism No.34” by Paul Francis Cosquieri

Works of art by 98 painters and sculptors of all backgrounds and nationalities are currently being exhibited at the Gustavo Bacarisas Art Gallery in Casemates Square, as part of the 47th edition of the Gibraltar International Art Competition 2020. The exhibition, organised by the Gibraltar Cultural Services on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, was inaugurated last Wednesday (4th Nov 2020) with an award ceremony. The exhibition will remain open to the public until the 14th of this month.

Jacobo Azagury 2nd Place: “Mareorma 53”

The competition is highly regarded on both sides of the Frontier and has amassed 159 entries which are currently on display despite the difficulties that 2020 has brought. Of course, without the usual crowded inauguration we have seen in other years and with the all the hygienic measures in place; masks, hand sanitisers, social distancing and capacity limits.

The Gibraltar Minister of Heritage and Culture, John Cortes, presented the awards this year, which were judged by Mercedes Corbacho, who is an art restoration expert and the director of the Cruz Herrera Museum in La Línea. “This competition enriches us culturally and promotes our art beyond our borders”, Cortes said during the inauguration. The exhibition will be open Monday – Friday as from 10:30 – 18:30, as well as on Saturdays from 10:30 – 13:30, up until the 14th.

Awards given to artists from Jerez, La Línea and San Roque

Gustavo Bacarisas 1st Prize (£5,000): “Vieja de la Plaza” – Fermín García Villaescusa

First-place winner of the ‘Gustavo Bacarisas’ prize of £5,000 was Fermín Garíca Villaescusa from Jerez, with his “Vieja de la Plaza” (“Old lady in the Square”). The second place ‘Jacobo Azagury’ prize of £2,000 was awarded to La Línea resident and water colour painter, Javier Plata for his “Mareorma 53”. The third place ‘Leni Mifsud’ prize, with an award of £1,500, was taken by the San Roque resident Lucía Palma Sarmiento, for her “Galactic Storm”.

A further two prizes were awarded of £1,000 each: The ‘Rudesindo Mannia’ award for the Best Gibraltar Theme was given to Francisco Luna Galván for his “Marina II”, and the Mario Finlayson Award for Best Young Artist, was awarded to Gibraltarian Zulaika Vallance for her “History of Atypical Representation”. 36 artists competed for the Rudesindo Mannia award, while 13 young artists contended for the Mario Finlayson prize.

Several other works also received an “honourable mention” award or a highly commended certificate from the judging panel: the “Life Jacket” sculpture by Ambrose Avellano, “Mario Finlayson Art Gallery” by Lorraine Buhagiar; “Abstract Popism No.34” by Paul Francis Cosquieri; “Library Street” and “White Robe” by Leslie Gaduzo; “Interior Landscape”, by Juan Gómez Macías; “Valor – Courage”, by Javier Machimbarrena; Nathan Parody’s “Window to Our Salvation” and “Clothing Expedition”; “Urban Composition”, by Raluca Piper; “Wild Bill and Rosetta” by Aaron Soleci; “Los Glacis”, by Karl Ullger; “Fiesta” and “Maniquins Party”, by Willa Vásquez; and “Romancero Gaditano”, by Pepe Baena Nieto.

Leni Mifsud 3rd Place: “Galactic Storm” – Lucía Palma Sarmiento

Mercedes Corbacho told ReachExtra that she found that both the quantity and quality of the works submitted had increased, and noted that there were more sculptures this time, which she said should lead to the creation of a specific award for sculptures next year.

Covid-19 Ever-Present

“Life Jacket” sculpture by Ambrose Avellano

Artists participating in the competition, mostly from Gibraltar, the UK, Ireland and Spain, were not limited as to the kind of work they could submit, with the theme, style and materials used being the artists’ choice.

During a pleasant stroll through the halls of the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery, you’ll find a little bit of everything: portraits, seascapes, interior and exterior landscapes, fleeting moments caught in time, and also scenes of everyday life from new angles, like that of an old woman at a market, whose face, bathed in light, makes us wonder what she might be thinking, and who has deservedly earned first prize… Likewise, explosive paintings of pure colour stand out on the gallery walls; some 3D works which project from the canvas, and many abstract pieces.

As was to be expected, there was also room for the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to live among us and conditions our lives and those of some of the artists who participated. This could be seen in “A Day in the Life of a Frontline Worker” by Ambrose Avellano; “2020” by Pat Bowling Lombard; “DIY Lockdown Frame” by Lynda Alcantara and “Covid Neurosis” by Alberto Danino. You will find in some other works that references have been snuck in.

“Art is communication, and during the lockdown there has been an explosion of creativity, more time to create and a need to express ones feelings in relation to what is happening” says Corbacho, who recalls that in the final analysis, painting and sculpting are nothing less than a reflection of the society in which we live; a view that is both outward and inward looking, but which is also an expression of sentiment, emotion, thought or simply a frame of mind.

“Los Glacis”, by Karl Ullger

We highly recommend a visit to the exhibition at Gustavo Bacarisas gallery, which proves that, as the famous Pablo Picasso said “art is the lie which helps us understand the truth”.

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