Christopher Saliba’s oeuvre displays a preoccupation with the dualisms that define the complex nature of human existence: finiteness and infinity, spirituality and materialism, surface and depth, mortality and eternity. Saliba develops these paradoxes into experimental and conceptual works inspired by existential and socio-political concerns.
Site-specific artworks are impermanent, installed in particular locations for a limited duration. These become the emblem of transience and the ephemerality of all phenomena. Most of the site-specific installations created by Saliba are documented on seashores. The backdrop and inspiration for much of his work is the island of Gozo, the place where he currently lives and produces his creative output. His actions are simple interventions with the use of simple objects. While acknowledging that the ‘absolute beauty’ is already manifested in the surroundings, the installations are meant to complement the harmony that materialises in the unified oneness of the sky and the sea. Apart from the utilisation of natural objects found on site, common commercial artefacts are often included – open containers, the purpose of which is to contain liquids or objects within their limited capacity. Due to their impermanence, the works are documented by means of photography. While showing an affinity with Land Art and Conceptual Art, the nature of Saliba's work remains predominantly symbolic and allegorical. Transcending the Ordinary is the title given to this project initiated in 2003.
The project titled Ageing Mirrors underlines existential concerns generated by the limitations of the human condition as a whole and the impersonal relationship between the anonymous mass and the individual self. The unorthodox visual narratives that develop relate to the changes affecting the personal, the social and the political paradigms. 'Art mirrors life' is the belief that underpins Saliba's art. His trademark format is the rectangular plane broken into equal vertical or horizontal sections that become a unified field of images. Working in series, Saliba confronts many of the fundamental issues of existence: fear, hope, conflicts, violence, ageing, self-preservation and death. He also depicts himself several times in his own work, recasting the human figure as a vulnerable and fragile being rather than as the classical and potent figure of strength.
The Broken Athlete and the Cry series
The Broken Athlete develops as a series in 2011. The themes are related to the vulnerability of the human body, ageing, anxieties caused by health problems and fear of death. As with the series of works titled Lifestyles, the mechanisms by which the consumerist society tries to project an ideal image of well-being and self-preservation are questioned.
Power Struggles and the Atrocities of War
Politics is about power relationships and the influential agents that orchestrate and determine the lives of people. In this series the common denominators are the desire for power and exploitation of human and natural resources. A measure of irony permeates the exposure of ailing political agendas divulged at the micro- and macro-levels of society.
Portraits and Hybrids
The idea of self becomes meaningful when persons identify themselves with other beings who shape their existence. This unconventional approach to portraiture does not focus on the idea of individual appearance but rather on the physical and emotional bond between human beings, their perception of other beings and their primordial link with nature. The hybrids are a celebration of the impurity and intermingling of cultures and ideologies advocated by post-modernism and contemporaneity.
The Alphaomega series
Life and nature are characterised by a continuous, dynamic process of change. Alive and dead are arguably visible signs of a complex process of universal motion permeating every aspect of our universe. The awareness of our pure consciousness makes us capable of fearing less the ageing of the body and its demise, even though the body continuously relies on its instinct of self-preservation. An awareness and understanding of death raises one’s state of life. Saliba occasionally indulges in parody to address his vulnerability as a mortal being and his eventual succumbence to death.
Cancer is still a stumbling block in the field of medicine and despite continuous technological and scientific advances, is a reminder of man’s vulnerability. Cancer, once activated, starts its destructive process. C-Scapes are colourful but also deceiving and elusive, as they are intended to distract our attention and conceal the source of the problem.