Exhibition "The Helmet and the City " [fr]

To mark the 450th anniversary of the Laying of the First Stone of Valletta, the French embassy in Malta and The Fortress Builders invite you to discover an art exhibition on Malta and its Knights by Jose Maria Ovejero exhibition from 19 April to 30 June.


Fortifications Interpretation Centre The Fortress Builders, St Mark street, Valletta


  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm
  • Saturday 9 :30 am to 1 pm
The Helmet and the City An art exhibition on Malta and its Knights

This exhibition is dedicated to the French Grand Master Jean Parisot de La Vallette of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John who, at the age of seventy three, resisted with seven hundred knights, three thousand Maltese soldiers and five thousand mercenaries during the Great Siege in 1565 against thirty thousand turkish soldiers of the Ottoman Empire. After the Ottomans raised the siege, he started the construction of the fortified city of Valletta . 2016 is the four hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone by the Grand Master.
In Malta, in front of towers, bulwarks, palaces, the magnificent co-cathedral Saint John and the colossal fortifications where during centuries boats and fishermen looked for shelter, we must evoke the Order of the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta at the origin of most of these austere or baroque constructions. This powerful stony link between Malta and its Knights, José-Maria Ovejero symbolized it by the entitled work " The Helmet and the City ".
Drawned with a sharp cut bamboo and a big brush of fox hairs, the drawings of José-Maria Ovejero are strong and brilliant. The lines are irregular and vibrating . Made with black or colored china ink enhanced sometimes with acrylic, the colors are lively and the white used in wide surfaces, strengthens their intensity.

His big drawings are filled with dreams of chivalry and epic which continues beyond the Middle Ages in a brave, protective and hospital medical action. The dreamed knight, the enigmatic knight, locked into his armor of steel, similar to a huge insect, the knight in banners and the knight and his double in the edge of the architectural labyrinth, symbol of the multiple fortifications to be defended, all are present, mysterious. In an impressive perspective, the souls of the knights and dead Grand Masters raise themselves from the gravestones of the cathedral of Saint John . They pay tribute to the famous courage of the fighters of the Order. They are the eternal guards of the archipelago in waters of crystal offered by Charles the Fifth to the Order. Indeed having been chased away from Rhodes with battle honors by Soliman the Magnificent they lived a wandering of seven years.

In « The Virgin and the Siren " the knights having faced the monstrous waves and the lascivious songs, arrive to Malta under the protection of the Mother of Christ. This donation of the crown of Spain is symbolized in " The keys of the Citadel " where the eye and the ear of the watchtower underline their protective and defensive role. " The hawk and the Squire " evoke the bird of prey which the Order sent every year to Charles the Fifth for the royal hunting.

In Malta, where they built an exceptional architectural complex, the knights became sea men, and their galleys waving the red flag inlayed with a large white cross, traveled the Mediterranean Sea chasing the barbary pirates slaves merchants or rescuing christian cities attacked by the Ottomans. It occured that they made very important grips, such the magnificent ship of the Big Eunuch of the Sultan, named "La Sultana" having on board a woman of sublime beauty covered with jewels.
After nine hundred years, the ultimate aim of medical care at the origin of the foundation of the Order of Saint John in Holy Land is still the deepest meaning presently. Ovejero expresses it in several drawings. " To Rescue and Care " motto of the Order of Malta, shows at the crack of dawn, under the fires of the rising sun knights helping on a road a wounded man. Between geographical imagination and biblical symbols the Holly Infirmary of Malta in " The Cross and the Cure ( blue)" appears under a celestial vault where are inlayed the famous Eve d’ Autun and the Three Kings. Evoking the narratives of the Old and the New Testament, they glide above the earthly sufferings relieved by the Hospitallers. They remind the omnipresence of the Christian faith of the Order.

" The Recumbent Khigt " lives his last mystic journey between heaven and earth, between marine azure and cosmic azure, in front of Maltese bulwarks which he erected.

Text by Chantal Mariscal

José-Maria Ovejero

Site officiel

Français de parents espagnols, né à Manille aux Philippines, vit à Paris et a fait de nombreuses expositions en France et à l’étranger, notamment au Centre Georges Pompidou, à l’Orangerie du Sénat, à la Cliff Dwellers Foundation de Chicago aux Etats Unis et à Manille aux Philippines.

En l’An 2000, année de la Culture de la Paix, il expose sur le thème « Arbre de Paix » au Musée San Agustin de Manille classé sur la liste du Patrimoine Mondial de l’U.N.E.S.C.O. Cette exposition a été reprise en 2005 au Sénat en France exposition visitée par 12 000 visiteurs.

Pendant plusieurs années ses œuvres sur le thème « Les Chevaux du Ciel » ont été exposées au Musée du Cheval Vivant aux Grandes Ecuries de Chantilly.

Certains dessins de sa série « Paris Fantasmagorique » sur la beauté architecturale et statuaire de Paris et Versailles ont été acquis par le Musée Carnavalet, le Cabinet du Maire de Paris et le Centre National d’Art Contemporain.
Il a découvert Malte lors d’une de ses expositions au Théatre Manoël.

Dernière modification : 09/04/2016

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