Human matter30th October – 11th November, Malta Society of Arts Valletta

The Malta Society of Arts has unveiled its newly refurbished Upper Galleries with the launch of Human Matter, a collective exhibition taking on ideas of and about the Anthropocene. The exhibition features contemporary art heavyweights Raphael Vella, Vince Briffa, Alexandra Pace, Paul Scerri and Caesar Attard as well as a number of young, up and coming artists.

The work on display varied considerably – paintings, drawings, film, interactive installations, sculpture and photography, with many works falling in mixed media ambiguity. There felt a striking wealth to the haul this exhibition brought in; its presentation was top notch, thematic diversity was present throughout and the works themselves were of high quality, a hard to come by package in Malta.

Spatial Curatorship on the other hand was weak. The opening night being as much a social event as a show, the arrangement of the work would have benefitted from this foresight. While it is true that a show cannot be truly enjoyed during the opening—and this is a good enough argument—it should be remembered that most people will only visit it during the opening, and less so afterwards.

Thematically, the curatorship is ambitious: positively so in seeking to explore contemporary themes, negatively so in assuming everyone knows about the Anthropocene, its exigencies and swirling issues. The tendency for curators towards an academic attitude when discussing art should be kept in check—a compromise should be struck for the benefit and upholding of the accessibility of ideas. Viewers should be able to understand what the work is about and curators should meet them halfway by avoiding overtly complicated and, frankly, rather ambiguous language.

The theme itself is of astounding interest, especially within Malta’s milieu of rising urbanity, the solidification of the urban landscape, a changing society, migration and the economic climate. Artists should take note of this exhibition as one of several recent turning points in the local art scene, a turning point towards a more mature artistic endeavour, both individual and institutional.

Although this article is not intended to be an depth analysis of the work on display, some works that deeply interested me were Alexandra Pace’s Automatons in Marienbad, Aaron Bezzina’s Untitled (Cruci-sledgehammer), Caesar Attard’s B/S/b (blood/spittle/blank), Paul Scerri’s Virtues and Iniquities, Ritty Tacsum’s Baħar.

As usual, please do visit the exhibition for yourselves!

Here’s the Facebook Event Page.

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