The Malta Independent 19 September 2019, Thursday

Viewing with all of one’s senses

Marika Azzopardi Sunday, 11 August 2019, 09:20 Last update: about 30 days ago

I sit in the soothing quietness of one of the four galleries at Palazzo de La Salle in Valletta, the seat of the Malta Society of Arts (MSA). The quietness is punctuated by discreet background music that allows me to observe the works of art in this unique collective. 'Perception: Postscripts' is the MSA members' exhibition for 2019 and embraces 43 works by close to 50 artists. Each work vies for my attention and each has a story to tell. And I realise the music is trying not to intrude on the issues represented by this interestingly intense selection of art.

The exhibits start beckoning from the courtyard and up along the grand stairway of the palazzo, where perceptions of a world fighting for survival start off the viewer on a heightened journey of awareness. Environmental threats kick off the exhibition by way of introduction.  The perception of the world we live in, its fluidity, its many man-made threats and the struggles to ensure we remain respectful of a delicate natural balance which is being slowly annihilated. The theme develops as the viewer enters deeper into the galleries. 

The first gallery evolves the topic in an experimental manner, so that one has to touch, feel, question and brood over the artists' very individual creations. What looks like fun and playful, is in fact a studied and creatively dynamic attempt to get the viewer involved in an exercise of observation.

The second gallery accompanies the viewer through a spiritually induced journey of reflexive works that provide a closer and microscopic view of the beyond, the rarely seen and the unnoticed. The transcendental impressions of each artist are finely tuned, and of an incredibly sensitive nature, calling on introspection inspired by the series of aesthetically challenging artworks.

Moving on to the third gallery, the more massive works embrace the viewer with a focus on man's relationship with the outside context. Our material world, its landmarks, the exhaustion of overloaded landscapes, the struggle for survival of the human species, the efforts to remain untouched by our world and its chaos as we perceive it

The final room gathers personal journeys and perceptions, tactile, individual, sensitive and diverse. Here the artists use an eclectic range of mixed media to delve into their own perception of how they live as human beings with their own microcosm of very particular concerns.

As a collective, the exhibition bears witness to healthy talent, contemporary art forms, and a gamut of techniques that broaden one's knowledge of 'art' beyond the paint and canvas option. Steel, flora, fabric, plastic, metal, paper, ceramic, fish nets.... and somebody's belongings immortalised in an installation. Certainly, the range of versatility of diversity is exhilarating and often surprisingly novel. One can expect to see something as quaint as a mechanised whale through to something as bizarrely surprising as a solar panel hung indoors.

The 'Perception: Postcripts' exhibition has been carefully coordinated by curator and artist Roderick Camilleri, who was also in charge of the first 'Perception' exhibtion held in 2018.  Both editions form part of a project which brings together a series of events within the international artistic project called 'AMuSE' (Artistic Multi-Sensorial Experiences). This international project has been selected and co-funded by the European Commission within the Creative Europe Programme and has been generated by a consortium of four European countries, namely Italy, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Malta, with the MSA in Malta being the lead partner.

Mr Camilleri says, "The first exhibition was of a more experimental nature and a thoroughly novel challenge for many of MSA's members.  I must say that this edition has evolved  better with many sub-narratives sprouting up along the way. I have seen that the works developed organically, aided by one long year of workshops and studio visits where each artist was given ample time and opportunity to discuss, experiment, and produce an individual work or join up with other artists to create a group effort. The long hours put into this project have created opportunity and space for a doable social practise, so that the exhibition brought together novel artists, art students and established artists successfully. Indeed it has been a very inclusive experience in the rather exclusive world of art. The process allowed a build-up of ideas and a constant check on quality levels."

'Perception: Postscripts' has certainly proved to be an exhilarating event presenting a surprisingly invigorating medley of assorted contemporary works that offer something to appreciate for every art fad who bothers to stop by. I strongly encourage a visit just because of the sheer variety of art forms on show - not something you'd see very often in one fell swoop here on Malta. This is contemporary art that truly speaks of our times and the way we perceive them.

 

'Perception: Postcripts  - MSA Members Exhibition 2019' is at MSA, 219 Palazzo de La Salle, (lower) Republic Street, Valletta until 31 August. Opening hours: Monday & Friday - 8am to 7pm; Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday - 8am to 12pm & 3pm to 6pm; Saturday 9am to 1.30pm


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