By Warren Bugeja, Communications Executive – Heritage Malta

This spring, three different spaces play host to three overlapping exhibitions in MUŻA’s jam-packed 2022 creative calendar.

Lithography makes a comeback with ‘InKimika’, a collective project led by Jesmond Vassallo, Lino Borg, Justin Falzon and Laurent Nicolai. The process of drawing on Bavarian stone, invented in 1796 and pioneered locally by Pietro Paolo Caruana, is being revived after a century of neglect. Despite its initial local success, lithography progressively lost its popularity until it was all but forgotten. “InKimika lithography lab Malta aims to give new life to the art of lithography by creating an informed energy and momentum around the medium in the local creative ecology,” says Maltese artist Jesmond Vassallo who experienced lithography in Rome for the first time in 2015.

Vassallo and the other participants have been collaborating and experimenting with Laurent Nicolai, a French master lithographer at Atelier 10, Vassallo’s (and Malta’s only) lithographic studio, where together with five Maltese artists, namely: Vince Briffa, Debbiearuana Dingli, Sue Flask, Paul Scerri, and Robert Zahra, they have been creating lithographic impressions for this exhibition. Derived from the Greek word ‘litos’, which means stone, this fascinating language of printmaking revolves around the simple idea that water and oil repel each other. The process begins with a drawing carried out on the stone using materials that are rich in fat content. The stone is then developed with gum arabic and nitric acid, hence the name of the collective. Several steps later, the final impressions captured by all nine participating inKimika artists will be exhibited in MUŻA’s Camerone, from Friday 11th March till Sunday 17th April. Both the museum’s curators and the collective’s artists hope that this project, which is supported by the Arts Council Malta, will establish an interesting dialogue with MUŻA’s existing collection of lithographic prints.

Delving into psychological processes beneath surface representation, ‘Endless Thinking’, an exhibition of semi-abstract artworks in paintings and relief by Noel Attard, occupies MUZA’s corridors between Friday 1st April and  Sunday 8th May. The collection takes its cue from the rows of portraits in the introductory preamble, ‘The Artist’, that greet visitors to MUŻA upon arrival. Attard goes one step further than the apparent where he explores what lies beneath physical resemblance as presented in conventional portrait depictions. ‘Endless Thinking’ employs artistic mediums to conduct a physiognomic study of man’s fears, doubts, pains, physiological battles and dilemmas excavating the deeper truth. Drawing on both personal experiences and the social behaviour patterns of others, Noel’s work seeks to reflect exposure to diverse psychological situations. Art and art galleries become a comforting refuge in critical moments.

The enclosed “womb-like” community space welcomes Etienne Farrell’s black and white deadpan photography exhibition ‘Guilty’ between Friday 6th May and Sunday 12th June. The work consists of a sequence of full-scale images of five women whose direct gaze invites viewers to observe, study, compare and question the situations faced by these women.

Each of Farrel’s dispassionately captured sitters exposes some discomfort, condition or health issue that women only experience simply by virtue of being ‘guilty’ of their gender. Farrell’s studio portraiture focuses on a factual and objective depiction of the sitters “laying bare what women go through,” eschewing sentimentality and avoiding a feminist stance.

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as featured in Encore Magazine (March – May 2022)

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