The Art of Four Elements

Artwork by Jeni Caruana and Jason Lu. Photography by Christine Cutajar

The 27th April will see the launching of a multi-media arts project which will be the first of its kind on Malta. The occasion involves the inauguration  of an exhibition, to be hosted by St James Cavalier, as well as the launching of a book and website on . The four artists taking part in the project attempt to express love, joy and suffering, but most of all a wonder at the forces of nature, through their different and varied art forms - poetry, photography, painting and drawing.

Sage talks to Christine Cutajar, one of the artists involved in this interesting project.

Christine, first of all, welcome to We are pleased to have you among us.

I understand that you are one of four artists who will be taking part in the project called The Art of Four Elements, which will be launched at St James Cavalier very soon. Who are the other three artists?

Nataöa Pantovic wrote the poetry, Jason Lu executed a series of colourful paintings in oils and oil pastels and Jeni Caruana is the watercolourist of the group. I, myself, am a self-taught photographer.

Very aptly, each artist will be representing one of the four elements of nature - Earth, Air, Water and Fire. Which artist will be representing each element, and how does each artist's work hope to represent that element?

The poetry written by Nataöa Pantovic represents Earth, that is the mother of all we know and experience ... the mother who, within her womb, carries a spirit going forth into the magic of manifestation. Nataöa  is a poet, a writer, and a spiritual researcher on self-development, yoga, alchemy, and higher states of consciousness.  With twenty years of meditation experience, Nataöa runs yoga and meditation workshops and writes about a variety of spiritual subjects. I find her poetry to be very deep and spiritual, inviting one to dive deeper into oneself to explore and try to understand those parts of that self which are confusing, threatening or destructive. Nataöa's poetry inspires us to transform ourselves and reach our highest potentials.

Poetry by Nataöa Pantovic and art by Jason Lu

Jason Luís paintings represent the element of Air, that has no shape and is incapable of a fixed form. It is a

symbol of thoughts. His paintings, in oils and oil pastels, are full of colour and resonate a vibrant energy which takes one into a world of unlimited and boundless fantasy and creativity.  

Jeni Caruana, who needs no introduction being a well-known watercolourist and art tutor in Malta, chose Water as her element. Water, that symbolizes the world of emotions. Her watercolours have such a wavy flow which takes one into the rhythm of Creation. They are full of flowing life and feelings. She graduated from the Harrow College of Art, in 1973, with a formidable gift for translating the world around her into line and has been going strong ever since.

My (Christine Cutajar) element is Fire - Fire that is boundless and invisible, and is a parching heat that consumes all. For me Fire is the primary element of transformation and I believe that our soul is the ultimate reason we live on Earth. My particular art form is photography. I am a traveler at heart and have a great passion for nature, art and (of course) for photography. During my work I was truly inspired by the life-cycle of the fire. Thus, while I was creating my photography to complement Nataöa's poetry, I felt that the order of my chosen poetry in the book should follow the process of a fire's life-cycle ... mirroring a soul's experience to reaching enlightenment ... chaos ... experiencing Maya ... passionate flow ... dying, only to be re-born again ... and finally reaching one's highest potential.

How did four artists emerging from different artistic disciplines come together to give rise to such an original concept?

Simple. Life simply brought us altogether through our differences and similarities. We all come from different backgrounds, different trainings, different nationalities ... yet, we are so similar in our passion for life and in the way we nurture our souls and explore the mysteries of life. Through our differences and similarities we all gelled quite beautifully together!

I remember that I had just came from back from Romania and it was really like a huge omen for me when Nataöa asked me to do the photography for her poems. This is mostly because the night before, in Romania, I had a dream and a feeling that something inside was  pushing me to use my photography and improve on my skills ... so I was thrilled with this opportunity and amazed at the coincidence.  A few weeks later,  Nataöa met Jason and asked him whether he would like to take part, and of course he was also swept away with her poetry ... The way Jeni joined was also fantastic. It happened one day, when Jason, Jeni and myself all met at St. James Cavalier, spontaneously without having any appointments with each other and it was then that Jason told Jeni all about this amazing project and if she'd like to join us. Well, of course, she did not think twice ...

You are also quite an "international" bunch of people ...

Yes ... Jeni is British and I'm Maltese. Nataöa is from Serbia. She is a marketing graduate, and has been living and working in Malta for the past 18 years. Jason Lu is also based in Malta at the moment. He was born in Taiwan, and moved to the US at the aged of 15. He studied art at the Florence Academy of Art.

Can you tell me more about the book and the e-book/ website which will be launched on the 27th.

Nataöa's poetry was an inspiration for the work of the visual artists.  Jeni, Jason and I chose 40 poems each and created art work based on the theme and the "vibe" of each poem. The web-site based on this collection of work will be launched on the 27th April, together with the exhibition. This will be an on-going project, and more work will be added later ... so stay tuned for more.

A book will also be published, in May, based on the artistic work which will be exhibited at St James Cavalier.

The on-line book/ site, in particular, sounds very interesting. I think it is the first to be associated with the launch of an exhibition in Malta ... Am I mistaken?

No, no mistake. And yes, it is a very unique idea which invites our audience to open up their hearts and get inspired from our works, even on the ever-growing medium of the internet. It is an opportunity for them to explore their worlds and discover more about themselves, through the sheer, powerful words in the poems and the impact of the visual artworks. As I've already hinted, this is an on-going project and won't end with the closing of the exhibtion - our site will ensure that this is possible.

How about attending the launch? Is everyone free to attend?

Yes, everyone is welcome to attend and join the inspirational, fun and exciting evening on the 27th April, while viewing our work. The event is, of course, free of charge.

After the launch of your poetry and visual art exhibition on the 27th April, for how long will visitors to St James Cavalier be in a position to view your collective art-work?

The exhibition is open until the 9th of May, 2010.

I wish you and your colleagues every success with your new and innovative project, and hope that this will be the first of  many other opportunities to enjoy your works. Thank you.

Many Thanks, Sage, for your wishes and for making this interview on possible. I look forward to seeing you again at St. James Cavalier on the 27th April. And yes, this is just the beginning ...

Thanks go to Ganni_Borg for proof-reading the article.