The Malta Independent 23 September 2023, Saturday
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In a sculptural world

Sunday, 4 June 2023, 08:15 Last update: about 5 months ago

The ART4MCCF just launched their first collective exhibition for this year, curated by yours truly and in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund. Written by Melanie Erixon.

Aptly titled "SCULPTURA," this exhibition exclusively celebrates the art of sculpture.  There is no specific theme for the exhibition, but what is binding the works all together is the fact that they are all in their own way sculptures.  The scope of the exhibition is to portray a glimpse of the contemporary sculpture scene in the Maltese Islands and the fact that there is not one of my challenging themes to burden the artists' thoughts, of course leaves the artists freer to express and showcase what they really wish to work on.

The artworks feature different kinds of sculptures including 'a tuttotóndo' (in the round), and hanging sculptures which are known as reliefs varying from high relief to very low relief, depending on how much the 3-dimensional aspect of the sculpture juts out from its base. There is a large variety in the media used from stone to glass, concrete, metal, gold, brass, terracotta, ceramics and bone. 

There are 32 participating artists, many established names and a few emerging artists who have been handpicked and invited to participate.  Great artists, amazing artworks and to top it all up, the venue.  The exhibition is kindly being hosted by H.E. George Vella, the President of Malta & Mrs Miriam Vella at the De Paule Hall at San Anton Palace in Attard. 

It's no easy feat to discuss 32 artworks, but I shall try.  A number of artists are presenting works from serieses of works that they have been working on.  Paul Scerri is exhibiting one of his iconic and impressive boats from the series 'Journeys, from the Pilgrimage to the unknown' - an artwork reminding of a topic that unfortunately we have become accustomed to ignore in daily news.  Thomas Scerri's work is from his series INTERVENTI, where the artist is investigating the irreversible transformation taking place in the local context.  Lawrence Pavia's Three of a Kind is from his BajtArt series - a homage to the humble prickly pear and how this tree is slowly being wiped out of the countryside - a topic which is very at heart of the artist.  VAGRANT #1 is the first in a series of mixed media reliefs by Roderick Camilleri.

The series is about themes revolving 'around the notion of man's future and the upsurge of anthropogenic climate change'.  Amelia Saint George who is known for her perfect animal sculptures, is exhibiting the maquette in clay of her MALTESE BULL.  Thomaz Cauchi is exhibiting two works complementing each other, from the same series but one is in pvc and the other in metal. His series 'Signature Series' explores the visual impact of a simple scribble.  Victor Agius is exhibiting a hanging sculpture GHEZJU CAVE from the series of works where he is experimenting by 'casting rough stone surfaces and using this language for his abstractions which dialogue with the primitive'.  Dave Calleja is working on a series of works tackling different phobias and the particular one exhibited here, executed in metal, is called COULROPHOBIA - the fear of clowns.  (And now good luck with forgetting the image of the not so nice clown in the gutter, from the movie 'IT')

Three artists are showing works which I wouldn't say are religious but derived from the Bible.  Mark Mallia's JOB, shows a very restrained and shrouded dark rendition of Job. He manages to capture the selfless character and the story of Job in such a humble way while still stylistically immediately recognizable as a work by Mallia.  Nadya Anne Mangion's work FAMILY TIES, showing a couple with an infant, is a re-interpretation of the Nativity scene.  Clint Calleja... no secret I am a big fan and truth be told, his artwork almost didn't make it on time due to life getting in the way, but lucky us, he made it and what a strong work.  GENESIS II 2.0 shows a representation of the Tower of Babel, with an incomplete base and a modern top part all covered in binary code, which is being used as a common language. 

Some works are dealing with the topics of life and death.  Emerging artist Martina Darmanin is exhibiting a beautiful pillow in clay, accommodating 3 small heads peacefully asleep.  MEMORY FOAM is exploring the notion of sleeping without dreaming, as being the closest one can feel to experiencing death.  George Muscat's BIRTH, executed in stoneware ceramics and black clay, is the result of observing humans in their natural and instinctive environment. 

Stephen Saliba is questioning the nature of our existence in the eventuality of the afterlife, in his work AFTERLIFE IDENTITY executed in stoneware ceramics and bone on an acrylic sheet.  Paul Haber in his work MELTING FORCE is presenting a metaphor of all the pressures and situations out of our control, in our daily lives and how one has to move and bend with and against the flow.  And on a more positive note towards life, Wallace Falzon's work TRIBUTE TO MATISSE is inviting us to join five dancing figures and participate in the dance of life in harmony with others.

Three artists are dealing with the female topic in very different ways.  A very strong work and a very strong title for Etienne Farrell.  DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION NOW? Executed in mixed media, so raw, so blunt, so in your face and so to the point, basically a centuries-long cry for female acknowledgement - brains over body.  Another very talented emerging artist, Ruben Formosa whose artwork intrigued quite a few.  TAINTED INNOCENCE portrays a young female bust covered with a handful of black grogged clay fragments - a metaphor of a youth experiencing the reality of life.  Trevor Diacono on the other hand is capturing the essence of feminine beauty and grace, embodying the human and nature, the sacred and the profane in FLOWER GIRL.

Some artists are taking the media used to new levels.  Antoine Farrugia, did it again.  He managed to find a new way to bring Globigerina Limestone to its limits.  From one block of stone he created a complex cobweb of fine thin lines, patinated and polished to resemble marble.  Rune Bo Jakobsen is using cement to create his STELLAR POPCORN. This was part of a public art project, where the artist created 'expanding' volumes 'as sensory experiences and as an expression of fertility'.  Josette Caruana merges cement and glass in her LIGHT AND MATTER small sculpture, resulting in an almost surreal mountainside.

Some artists are basing their works on personal experiences.  All who follow Stiefnu De Battista, know that his works are a recollection of his childhood memories while fishing with his father and here we have a large (almost deconstructed) seahorse executed in mixed media.  Joseph Agius's stoneware ceramics sculpture is based on a memory of a trip to see some Roman ruins.  Antoine Paul Camilleri is exhibiting a beautiful reclining nude, very typical of his style and oeuvre, executed from life class sessions.  THE MATTER is a 'self-portrait' of the artist's spirit.  Noel Attard is translating his previous 2D abstracts in 3D.  Isaac Warrington's work ON CONFRONTING FINITUDE, a hanging sculpture executed in mixed media including bones, 'serves as an introspective procedure to find out about Being'.

Another three artists are not known as sculptors but I know that in the past they have experimented with sculpture.  Katel Delia known more for her photography created a small strong work PROTECTION VS. SHROUD which explores the ambiguity of our thoughts vs our actions.  One work which really impressed me is Lucio Dubini's' PALAZZO DEI SOGNI' where he really managed to translate his 2D works in 3D in such a chaotically harmonious way.  Darren Tanti is known as a painter but we did see some superb sculptures in his latest major exhibition.  He decided to portray a golden image of MIDAS sporting metal donkey ears, hinting at how we are surrounded by greedy Midases all around us.

 

Stefan Priehyba's work is an 'interactive' sculpture.  An impressive life size (decomposed) arm is sculpted in limestone, index finger pointing straight ahead.  The artist decided to tie a helium balloon to this finger, suspended in mid-air and time seems to stand still.

RING (ROSE THORNS), a work by Aaron Bezzina, as usual, boggles the mind. A fine line between sculpture and objet d'art.  One is free to interpret this ring made of actual thorns and then cast in brass and gold-plated.  It's hard to stop looking at it.

 

The exhibition SCULPTURA is on till the 18th of June. Opening hours: Saturdays & Sundays 9am till noon, 5pm till 8pm, San Anton Palace. 


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