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Cruz Herrera museum director selects Gib International Art winners

Johnny Bugeja

The winners of the 47th annual Gibraltar International Art Exhibition were unveiled yesterday in a socially distanced prize ceremony, with Fermin Garcia Villaescusa scooping the top prize.

Mr Garcia Villaescusa won the Gustavo Bacarisas Prize and £5,000 cash for his contemporary piece ‘Vieja de la Plaza’, which is currently on display at the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery in Casemates Square.

This year’s competition was judged by Mercedes Corbacho Rodriguez, Director of the Cruz Herrera Museum in La Linea, who loved Mr Garcia Villaescusa’s brush strokes and the contemporary piece.

“It has been very difficult to judge this year as the level is very high,” Ms Corbacho Rodriguez said.

She added she had three in mind for the first prize and commented on the high technical level of the art displayed in the exhibition.

With 159 artworks to choose from Ms Corbacho Rodriguez said she has gravitated to artworks that have grabbed her attention.

She narrowed down the potential winners to 30 and said it was been very difficult to cut down and chose the final slate of winners.

“I spent four hours looking at the art works,” she said.

She also judged the pieces on their originality which based her selection of the second and third prizes.

Javier Plata won the second prize for his piece ‘Mareorama 53’, with Mr Plata having also judged artworks locally. Just last May he judged the Spring Visual Arts Competition via his home in La Linea during lockdown.

Lucia Palma Sarmiento won the third prize with her abstract painting ‘Tormenta Galáctica’.

Ms Corbacho Rodriguez selected ‘Marina II’ by Francisco Luna Galvan for the Best Gibraltar Theme and Best Young Artist has been awarded to Zulaika Vallance for ‘History of Atypical Representation’.

Ms Corbacho Rodriguez encouraged those who came in highly commended and for all artists to participate again in the exhibition, adding if she could she would’ve chosen more to receive mentions.

She hopes no one is discouraged from entering competitions in the future and has even jotted down some names for future exhibitions in the Museo Cruz Herrera.

The exhibition is open to the public until Saturday, November 14 between 10.30am and 6.30pm on weekdays and 10.30am to 1.30pm on Saturday’s. Entrance is free.


‘I have chosen this as it is a figurative piece, here you seen what the artist is trying to represent. Everyone can understand it. It has a human expression that has grabbed my attention. Art is about communication and the subject, this elderly woman, gives off the loneliness of a person at the end of their life and she is in her last years. This is not a hyper-realistic painting, it is very expressionist painting and with some brush strokes the artist has etched the face and expressions, the lost look and her humbleness. She is there with her vegetable stall and this is the ending of a tragic story. The painting has a human side that has grabbed my attention. The strokes are loose, and the painting is impressive. Hyper-realistic paintings everyone understands them, but here with quick brush strokes the artist has succeeded in capturing the expressions, light and shade.”


‘For people who are not into art this painting might be a bit harder to understand. It is an abstract painting made with marks. I see it as a development in technique, that shows a looseness to the work. The colours are harmonious and it is a brave painting.’


‘When I entered the exhibition it caught my attention because of its colour. The artist has mixed cold tones with hot tones, and the end result is fantastic. When I read the title ‘Tormenta Galáctica’, which got me more interested in the subject. It is a very original piece. The mix of colour, strokes and the looseness of it also makes for a brave painting. I have liked it, and the title in relation to the piece.’


‘I have chosen this piece, firstly because it grabbed my attention with the bright colours and its large format, and mostly because of the technique. I get a sense that this painting is made from oils in lots of solvent from the way the colours mix. It is very difficult and brave to paint with this technique. This is a style that is difficult to control. The colours are very attractive and the Rock makes it very identifiable as Gibraltar.’


‘It is spectacular, it looks like it was painted by someone much older, firstly because of the profound nature of the subject, and secondly, I interpret various ages in the piece. From young and how the person ages and changes, the years of experimentation and self-discovery. The person at the top who looks like they are in between being a man or a woman. It is an interpretation of the stages of life and the artist has an incredible technique. I would have never said this was made by a young person. It is very well done and very focused in its subject. There are also different styles of art and it is of an exceptional quality. This was the first painting I chose from all the exhibition for a prize and the artist deserves it.’


Ambrose Avellano ‘Life Jacket’, Lorraine Buhagiar ‘Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery’, Paul Francis Cosquieri ‘Abstract Popism No.34’, Leslie Gaduzo ‘Library Street’ and ‘White Robe’, Juan Gomez Macias ‘Interior Landscape’, Javier Machimbarrena ‘Valor – Courage’, Mark Montovio ‘Apostle XI’ and Retribution’, Nathan Parody ‘Window to Our Salvation’ and ‘Clothing Expedition’, Raluca Piper ‘Urban Composition’, Aaron Soleci ‘Wild Bill and Rosetta’, Karl Ullger ‘Los Glacis’, Willa Vasquez ‘Fiesta’ and ‘Maniquins Party’, and Pepe Baena Nieto ‘Romancero Gaditano’.

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