In the artist’s head

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2019-02-08T12:45:25+00:00Fri, 8th Feb '19, 12:45|0 Comments

I do not presume to teach Patrick Dalli what makes good art. I don’t presume to teach that to anyone, frankly. I know what I like but it doesn’t mean I know why it’s good. I know what I can afford to spend which I accept has nothing to do with value.

Times of Malta reports that Patrick Dalli told Therese Commodini Cachia in an SMS “nobody has the right to value his works”. He was whipping her for having the temerity to stand in Parliament and say the €15,000 price tag for a nude he painted and now hangs in the prime minister’s official summer residence in Girgenti was deemed by “some art critics” as excessive.

If he didn’t think the art critics had a right to estimate the value of his painting we fall back on very basic economics: a price is determined at the point that a willing buyer and a willing seller agree it should be.

But Patrick Dalli is quite unilateral in this respect.

He’s not the only one to have supreme confidence in their own quality as an artist.

In comparison with Norman Lowell, say, Patrick Dalli is positively modest.

Visit, for your sins, Norman Lowell’s 2004 Imperium Europa website, where apart from professing white supremacist drivel and a few videos of narcissistic delusion, Norman Lowell sells his paintings.

The links to the images appear to be broken but the prices remain. Norman Lowell offers his 71 x 102 cm painting on cardboard from 1995 called “ERUPTION!” (exclamation mark in the original) for no less than €12 million euro. There are a few other paintings that are more in the Patrick Dalli range, shall we say.

“ERUPTION!” graces the front cover of Norman Lowell’s ponderous tome Credo. The original painting is priced, by him, for €12 m.

“FOUNTAIN OF DELIGHT” — the caps are also in the original in case you thought they were a product of my enthusiasm for this stuff — sells for €10,000, as does “FOUNTAIN OF JOY”. But “GENEVE” then is worth €400,000. Not quite a Dali’ but rather more than a Dalli.

The thing is these prices are in Norman Lowell’s head. Until they are sought after as memorabilia to remind future generations of the founder of the second thousand year reich, should it ever materialise, hardly anyone would pay €120 for “ERUPTION!”, never mind €12 million.

Unless of course Norman Lowell marries a government Minister whose boss is willing to pay what the artist is willing to charge, without regard to the views of critics and appraisers.

It may very well be the case that no one has the right to tell Patrick Dalli what his paintings should cost. If you’re prime minister and using the public’s purse would you really bother asking?