Archives: Projects

Portrait of Jesmond Mifsud

Creating this portait of Jesmond Mifsud wasn’t an easy feat. I didn’t know the man much and only spoke to him in few instances. The last time we met was in St Lucia Street, right opposite the family shop. He called me “zi” and when I asked why he explained it was because my uncle Noel who was his friend, used to call him so.

Jesmond left this world on January 16, 2020. His faith and love for Jesus was no secret as he used to preach Jesus whenever possible even through the most painful days. An exemplary and positive member of the Valletta community, Jesmond is missed till this very day.

This portrait depicts Jesmond as an elegant soul through a dark background adorned in gold and copper textures. The focus of the composition is the radiance on the subject’s face. The work is now showcased in the family shop turned wine bar by Jesmond’s elder son. May it warm the heart of his family and help the remembrance of this gentleman and all his goodness.

Portrait of Sandro Lapira

When George Lapira contacted me to commission this graphic work of his late brother, various emotions flowed through me. Even though ours wasn’t a deep friendship, with only a few moments shared during festa and the occasional chat on Messenger, Sandro did inspire a lot of good vibes in my life especially in the past 15 years since I got directly involved in the Pauline community.

A true son of Arċipierku, Sandro was a succesful man with a passion for football, fashion, Valletta, AC Milan and our patron saint, Paul of Tarsus. I recall clearly his excitement and his starry eyes when I interviewed him for a brief comment about our festa. His passion for life and complete trust in God were exemplary and a true inspiration for me. Sandro passed away in October 21, 2021 leaving the Valletta community in deep grief. Beautiful memories about this man flowed on social media following the sad news.

Portraying such an icon should have felt like a task, yet as soon as AC Milan claimed the Serie A title 2021/22 in May 22, 2022, inspiration got the best of me. The final work represents Sandro in his typical smile – his way of spreading love and offering comfort to all. Graphic references link to his passion for football, Valletta and the Pauline community in Valletta. May this work bring joy and beautiful memories to his family and friends. May it help to keep alight the rememberance of this great soul.

Portrait of Liana

The composition and the colours focus on an introspection of the character, defining the spiritual reality of human essence. This was achieved through the feedback of the client who accompanied the creative process with his observant insight of the subject. It is indeed a pleasure that results were loved by the client and the subject herself.

Vella Family Portrait

Following the exhibition Wiċċ Imb Wiċċ held in April 2021, a dear friend came around requesting a family portrait that would imitate the style. The portrait features the husband, wife, daughter, grandmother, grandfather and dog. It reflects upon, story-tells and uncovers the terminology of family by giving an ephemeral form to all the intergenerational and interracial facets that make up that which we call family.

Daphne

I was never a follower of Caruana Galizia’s reporting especially since various statements of hers came across as offensive with people like myself who cherished a leftist approach to politics. These sentiments were shared by many. Whilst I dealt with this by boycotting her blog, others showered her with ruthless adjectives and titles or even worse, demonised her.

The crazy ordeal of October 16 came as no surprise to many, whilst others were in total shock. I recall the moment when news reached me whilst working at the Valletta 2018 Foundation. Most of my colleagues were horrified whilst others were almost relieved.

In a few weeks I realised how the work and death of this woman disclosed the large crevasse in the values of the Maltese people. Whilst most hold strong to their religious practices, many amongst them were and still are celebrating the death of “the witch from Bidnija” in opposition to others who have considered this turn of events as the pits of a society that has lost its true conscience.

This re-appropriated digital rendering of Ms Caruana Galizia completed July 23, 2021 defines her as a metaphoric mirroring of the contemporary Maltese society; alas physically torn apart through a sharp cut.

Il Maestro

Last Tuesday one of the greatest artists the world had the pleasure to host passed to the next phase of the existence he contemplated through every breath on this earth. Following my impromptu writing to salute the life of this immortal genius, here is a visual tribute to Franco Battiato’s inspiring soul. It is a unique edition print. Bursting warm colours represent Battiato’s thirst for the Truth. He transpired passion and creativity though his art and acted as a public testimonial for the Truth in this alienated society. Thank you maestro. May we all listen.

WIĊĊ IMB WIĊĊ – Fading Social Distancing

In my perennial quest towards an artistic expression that serves my soul I have come to terms with my need not to accommodate; institutions, social norms or my own self. The affection towards anything that is absurd and away from the obvious is now a constant obsession in my research.

In my 2020 discussions with curator Melanie Erixon about possible fresh works, we thought it would be great to revisit a past research and posing it into the contemporary disrupting climate of the pandemic. The restrictions imposed on the social and the individual realities have indeed disrupted all of us. The pandemic is a protagonist game-changer that has manipulated how we behave; how we eat, how we relate, how we have sex, how we breathe, how we experience our innate human senses. Starring in such an unprecedented crisis we are being asked to shut down our relations; to stop being human. We all started doubting our own existence and our identity; private and collective.

In the past week I exchanged reflections about this project with my friend and social sciences expert Dr Alex Grech who reminded me how most of us are nowadays locked into Social Media platforms. “We are dependent on their affordances to navigate our sociality and mediate our identities. In our love affair with Silicon Valley, we have gone from the early innocence of private horizontal exchanges with those we know in the offline world to the spectacle of online performance: we watch, lurk, comment, troll, cancel, share and wait for others to acknowledge our existence. We are all in this together – including those who watch over us and harvest our data for their private means. In the process, we explore, destroy and renew our personas, from completely anonymous  to the mundanely familiar.”

The (Facebook) Portrait Project II – Fading Social Distancing Facebook group was a call launched on Sunday, 27 December 2020, inviting people from across the globe to participate in a social exercise of collective portraiture in which the popular urge to come together is metaphorically illustrated. In this virtual coming together the private is represented as public and vice versa. 363 people from across the globe decided to take up the call by the end of year deadline through direct or indirect invite. A collective ‘portrait’ was created for every ten consecutive group members through the re-appropriation of one of their own profile pictures on Facebook. Participants were later invited to use the group platform and share thoughts and reactions about social distancing and the urge for human touch – highlighting the common climate that is currently ruling us. All portraits, 37 to be precise, were printed on aluminium dibond and set up into my third solo exhibition that will hopefully be launched at Il-Kamra ta’ Fuq in Mqabba on April 17.

Alex was intrigued with participants agreeing to share and redefine their own identity with the artist and others: “The pandemic has forced us to remove the final vestige of humanity in the offline world and into social distancing. We are slowly being deprived of our seven basic senses, for our own good. We are masked and yet connected, peering into our screens, trying make sense of what we are, and what we may yet become. Our lives are disrupted, but social media will yet be our salvation and keep us safe from ourselves and unknown others. Won’t it?”

Whilst a dash of narcissism ensues, through which most will try to identify their existence within the collective, the exercise is a deeper research of the self away from the idealised view of who we all think we are. Identities get blurred or lost within the disturbing collective combination. Each artwork relates the questions “Who are you?, Who are we? What’s happening to us?. The big challenge is to make sense out of it all and knowing what is the ultimate beneficiary of all this effort.

The exhibition WIĊĊ IMB WIĊĊ will be open at Il-Kamra ta’ Fuq between April 27 and May 18 and can be visited strictly by appointment. You can make a booking or purchase an artwork by sending an email to info@artsweven.com or contact Art Sweven, Il-Kamra ta’ Fuq or the artist on info@pawlumizzi.com. All artworks are limited edition of three and selling at €125.

WIĊĊ IMB WIĊĊ is being curated by Melanie Erixon from Artsweven.

 


External Links

25 April 2021 – The intimacy among strangers – Joseph Agius, Times of Malta

22 April 2021 – Interview for Illum ma’ Steph

16 April 2021 – Interview for Meander

7 April 2021 – Interview for Maltarti

30 December 2020 – A social exercise of portrait creation, The Times of Malta

 

 

City Gate

City Gate is a live radio show on Radio City 98FM which I conducted starting January 2021. The latter is hosted under the auspices and at the premises of the Società Filarmonica Nazionale La Valette in Valletta.

The name of the show recalls the memory of us Valletta people meeting up friends or holding romantic dates at City Gate – the main gate of the city and whereabouts – back in the 90s. Each show is a two hour catch up meeting with a friend, acquaintance or personality, which is made public through radio waves and eventually, the internet.

City Gate promotes a lighthearted discourse about life in the community with a special reference to the city of Valletta and its people. It is also meant to act as a document recounting the experiences of the guests who honour me with their presence and personal story-telling.

Lullaby

Disconnection with a loved counterpart entails a process of yearning and letting go followed by hope or grief. Lullaby is a work about a state of disconnection, a state of sleep/flux in which the burning fire of desire sleeps but slowly sheds light on unforeseen revelations. The work was greatly inspired by the song Lulluby by American indie rock band Low.

“Cross over and turn
Feel the spot don’t let it burn
We all want we all yearn
Be soft don’t be stern
Lullaby
Was not supposed to make you cry
I sang the words I meant
I sang”
The ghost-like female figure revealed a surprisingly uncanny resemblance to Forget Marie from the Her Majesty (2015) series. Would this be a slow revelation rather than a disappearance? Would the truth within unveil itself and manifest or just take time to fade away?