“Painting, for me is an activity I need to get involved in, that has a total effect — not just a conceptual but an overall physical experience.” – Isabelle Borg
In 1986, at the age of 27, Isabelle Borg graduated in Fine Arts from the London Camberwell School of Art. Before settling down in Malta in 1988, she spent some time in Germany. Living in West Berlin changed her perspectives, bringing her into contact with the current developments of the time including the budding Neo Expressionist and Transavanguardia movements. Most works by the artist dating to this period are executed in ink on East German toilet paper which often come across as drab and austere.
The essence of the primitive and a fascination with Maltese prehistoric art are elements which run constant throughout the artist’s work. “Lovers in the Bull,” Isabelle Borg’s best known painting, is a milestone in Maltese twentieth century art. It asserts itself as one of the foremost amongst the many works by Maltese artists who were inspired by the imagery of Malta’s prehistoric past. The image of the long horned ox, with symbolic male and female figures inside it, is taken to another level thanks to the fervent colours and powerful brushstrokes used to conceive it.
In her abstracts, Borg pursues the senses and expresses her inner feelings through colour as she works over simple, constructed shapes in oils and wax varnishes on a gesso base. Circles, rhombuses and other geometric shapes which recall a divine sort of symbolism are the most recurrent themes in this series of paintings. Most of these forms emerge out of the canvas’s central axis; the overall impression being one of balance and calmness.
If one takes a look at Isabelle Borg’s many views of Malta’s Grand Harbour, it is easy to see that the artist does not treat the subject merely for its aesthetic worth.
Borg’s frequent visits to West Cork, Ireland have resulted in a cycle of paintings which reveal a parallel yet marked difference from her Maltese production. In this series, the diminutive landscape associated with Malta makes way for the wide, flowing expanses of Irish landscape as well as chromatic combinations different form those used in Malta.
Isabelle Borg passed away in 2010. A great loss not just for her friends and family but for the whole of Malta.
All information and photos were sourced from Isabelle Borg’s lovingly maintained official website, www.isabelleborg.com.