The Malta Independent 27 May 2024, Monday
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Pop art exhibition to open at Malta Society of Arts

Thursday, 25 April 2024, 13:10 Last update: about 2 months ago

Featuring 30 colourful oil paintings by Gozo-based American artist SJ Fuerst, the exhibition opens on 2 May at Palazzo de La Salle.

SJ Fuerst, an American artist based in Gozo, is launching her largest solo exhibition to date titled Gimme Some Sugar, showcasing 30 new oil paintings at the Malta Society of Arts in Valletta. Featuring figurative works painted on canvas and also works painted directly onto everyday items such as candy boxes, this fun and colourful exhibition plays with sugar and candy. The official opening of the show will take place on Thursday 2 May at 7pm and it will remain open until the 23 May.

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"Candy has an immense and complex presence in our society. On the surface it encapsulates innocence itself, seen as a treat inseparable from childhood," explains Fuerst. "However, we never outgrow our love for candy, and as people become older it takes on metaphors for everything adults desire: love, sex, drugs, money, even happiness itself.

"In this exhibition I chose to paint on vintage Candy Land board games and candy boxes. I also incorporated elements of sculpture for the first time; I cast lollipops out of resin to paint on and sculpted marshmallows and popsicles out of clay. I wanted to pull our experience of candy and sugar into my artworks in as many ways as possible," she continues.

The exhibition has been carefully considered and designed down to its smallest details to bring the visitors into a world dominated by sugar; bursting with joy but not entirely innocent. Gimme Some Sugar playfully explores how candy is reflected throughout our culture, touching on sex and gender politics.

"My process starts when I find a costume or prop (usually inflatable) that inspires me. I spend a long time developing the concept and designing how to best use that item in a painting, and when I'm happy with the idea I'll work with a fashion model to take reference photos to paint from. I take a few hundred photos and use those to work out the final composition for the piece," details Fuerst when explaining her creative process.

"I start the actual painting by sketching out the image in charcoal, and then blocking in the underpainting with acrylic paint using large, flat masses of colour. Once I have the rough impression of the image down in acrylic, I switch to my oil paints and then spend the next six to seven weeks developing the piece," she concludes.

Malta Society of Arts' President Arch. Adrian Mamo is looking forward to this unique exhibition: "Gimme Some Sugar is an explosion of colour and talent, provoking more than a spoonful of reflection through the works of SJ Fuerst. Members of the public attending opening night can also look forward to receiving limited edition resin lollipops to commemorate the exhibition launch. It's a gesture that Fuerst planned to parallel everyone's childhood (and adulthood) memories and the simple yet profound happiness that comes from receiving a free lollipop. Brilliant!" Mamo concludes.

Gimme Some Sugar by SJ Fuerst opens officially on 2 May and remains open until 23 May 2024 at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts, Palazzo de La Salle, 219, Republic Street, Valletta. Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, and Saturdays 9am to 1pm. Entrance is free. For more details about the exhibition please visit www.artsmalta.org/event/gimme-some-sugar-an-exhibition-by-sj-fuerst or www.facebook.com/maltasocietyofarts


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