Alexia Coppini’s exhibition ‘The Great Ocean’ will be on display at the Palm Court Lounge in The Phoenicia from September 21 until October 21, and is an opportunity for art lovers and those entranced by nature to see first-hand the work of this talented Maltese artist who has exhibited extensively overseas.
Alexia has been painting all her life, ever since she could hold a pencil. She trained in portrait and figure drawing and did this for many years. A decade ago, in 2008, she was commissioned to paint 3 seascapes and this is how the story began.
Alexia’s love of the sea comes from being born and bred in Sliema. Ever since she remembers, she woke up and slept looking at and enjoying sea in all it’s forms. A positive change in her life took her to live on a beautiful island in the Caribbean, which only encouraged her to paint the sea all the more.
The title for the upcoming exhibition comes from a stanza in Longfellow’s ‘The Secret of the Sea’:
‘My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me’
Alexia says that these lines from Longfellow describes exactly how she feels about the sea and is what inspired her to name the upcoming exhibition ‘The Great Ocean’.
The beautiful seascapes at the centre of Alexia’s work revolve around oil; oil on weathered wood, oil on stainless steel, oil on galvanised steel and oil on perspex are four materials she has enjoyed using throughout this journey. Surprisingly, she says white is the most important colour in her palette.
Influenced by British Romantic painter JMW Turner, famous for his often violent seascapes, Alexia finds additional expressive levels, some deeply tender, others more contemplative, and the wide-ranging techniques she employs allow for a sublime rendering of this difficult, constantly moving and changing subject. Having painted the sea in all it’s form, ‘The Great Ocean’ captures turbulent seas, moonlit sea, pathways of light dancing on the sea’s surface, grandeur, nature at its spectacular best, water framed against rocks and the occasional vessel making white foam patterns in an otherwise benevolent if not sometimes moody ocean.
A clue to some of the power of her paintings comes from her observation that, “The sea here is extremely inspiring, especially in winter. I love dramatic storms, the strong presence of white in rough seas, the wetness in the grey and the vastness of it all.”
Jacques Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Alexia is caught in this net, the movement, the every changing colour, the force, the tranquility, the smell, the wonder, the joy, the solace, the comfort: exquisitely capturing these essences of the sea with the broad sweeping strokes of a loaded brush or knife. Yachts appear framed between crashing waves, or pleasure craft make foamy arcs that depict perfect summer days. Foregrounds animate and pulse to the endless rhythms of a blue then black tide. Distant horizons crackle with the tension at a point between vast expanses of sea and sky, rendered in her all-pervasive white.
Alexia only paints during the day as painting in artificial light is not an option for the purist in her. It’s a destabilising element in attempting to capture as faithfully as possible the spells of liquid and light as they infuse and intertwine, physical properties of man and nature captured by methods and means.
While staying true to her subject, Alexia draws upon travel, photography, poetry, antique paintings and research about techniques in the all-important run up towards a new collection. Months of preparation result in her depictions of the sea. This collection of 40 works has taken her to larger canvases, and more dramatic scenes, enabling her to express positive energy freely. Every piece is a challenge, every brush stroke a journey to the end result.
‘The Great Ocean’ will be open for a month, once this journey is over, she will start working on new collections to exhibit overseas. She ends by saying, “The sea is eternal. It is something I have always related to, something I could always turn to. I find it somewhat comforting to think that the sea has always been there for me.”
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