February 2022

View of St John’s Conventual Church of the Order, with the 8th September Procession

This painting shows the annual procession commemorating the Victory of the Great Siege of 1565 and the Nativity of Our Lady, with whose intercession the Great Siege was lifted on her feast day on 8 September. At the back of the procession is Grand Master Lascaris-Castellar (1636-1657). To his left is the page holding the sword and poignard of Grand Master de Valette which were seen in public only during these ceremonies.
Through this painting, we also get to admire the façade of St John’s Co-Cathedral in its entirety and appreciate the large scale of this building. We can appreciate the austere Mannerist design of this structure, the work of the Maltese architect and military engineer Girolamo Cassar (c. 1520 – c. 1593). The sombre look of the façade reflects both Cassar’s training as a military engineer and the solemn mood of the Order in the years following the Great Siege.

The Cyclone

During the 1960’s, Camilleri composed movement and dynamism in his work. With the use of wild horses, bulls and dancers, Camilleri was able to include very fast paced visual imagery. These representations are depicted in one of Camilleri’s paintings titled “The Cyclone” which is an oil-on-canvas painting that is stuck to panel in an unconventional method. Instead of stretching the canvas around the panel, the canvas is stuck to the panel leaving an underlying wooden frame evident whilst also letting the unevenness and tatty canvas edges visible.
Movement is represented through the use of empty spaces, quick line drawings, chunky washes and splashes of paint. Camilleri’s quick hand movements leave little details hidden for the viewer to find, creating a play on the eyes and contemplation for the mind.
The metaphorical ‘cyclone’ in the painting emphasises action and mobility in a team of horses, whilst the use of gentle blue and grey, create an interesting contrast on the harsh brown canvas. It is almost as if you can hear the horses’ hooves land on a dusty ground and a distant rumble of chaos whilst the moon creates a distant warm light. A painting which you can hear and not just see.