The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

Exploring the naked figure through Zoom

Sunday, 15 May 2022, 09:25 Last update: about 3 months ago

Jeni Caruana’s solo exhibition

I have loved figure-drawing since my first encounter with a "life" model during my foundation course at Hull College of Art back in the 1970s. Since then I must have drawn thousands of models, besides habitually sketching people around me. It's a love affair with the human condition I suppose; a fascination with how humans move and breathe and interact. There is a delicate vulnerability involved with drawing the naked figure, a sense of trust and co-operation between the seer and the seen. The model is exposed to the artist's scrutiny which goes beyond surface appearances of skin and form, deep into the almost mystical connections that are formed when we communicate beyond words. It becomes a conversation that appears through the hand of the artist in response to the engagement of all the senses. It goes beyond the sexual and even the sensual until it touches something visceral and raw.

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When lockdown started in early 2020 my only concern about staying in was that I could not attend life-drawing sessions, which I did at least once a week. Something remarkable happened though; a few art schools in the UK moved their life sessions online through Zoom. At first it was a bit shaky as we all grappled with the concept and the technology, but it rapidly developed into the many sophisticated sessions that are run today. Artists across the globe are drawing together regularly, sharing work and inspiration. Artists are using these platforms to support and promote body awareness, gender fluidity and minority groups with their art.

Most of the works in this collection were created over the last two years from Zoom sessions streamed into my studio. I have never liked working from photographs as I find them too static and lifeless, but with online sessions there is still the sense of a real person breathing and slightly moving as they hold the pose and feel the pressure on different parts of their bodies. These models are from all over the world, filming themselves from their own private spaces and often inventing imaginative and sophisticated sets. The connection has kept me inspired and able to reach out beyond the physical walls of my studio and the psychological walls of isolation. The last two years have been an incredible creative time for me, an inspiring and strangely liberating journey, which has resulted in many new works that have surprised and thrilled me.

People are welcome to come and visit at Gallery 23, Idmejda Street, Balzan between 22 May and 2 June. Those that cannot make it can phone on: 9942 8272, email: [email protected] for further information or to book an appointment for a private viewing.

Gallery 23 opens on Thursdays 6 to 8pm and Sundays 11am to 1pm

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