Duo show for Baldacchino, Van Malderen in Blink at Valletta Contemporary

‘Blink’ ruptures automated and familiar cycles just like blinking ruptures the continuum of sight, an inescapable and unceasing rhythm

Artists Nigel Baldacchino and Tom Van Malderen
Artists Nigel Baldacchino and Tom Van Malderen

Artists Nigel Baldacchino and Tom Van Malderen launch ‘Blink’, a duo show, on Friday 18 June at Valletta Contemporary.

Nigel Baldacchino’s photographic work will highlight the way windows articulate light and vision throughout the day in people’s urban reality, while through his sculptural work, Tom Van Malderen repurposes objects from day-to-day life, usually taken for granted.

“Blinking is an automatic gesture that half-knowingly punctuates our perception of visual reality in time,” the artists said of their forthcoming show.

“It ruptures the continuum of sight, lending it an inescapable and unceasing rhythm. It is also a mundane act of maintenance: we need to shut our eyes, so as to be able to keep them open. The work presented here is concerned with rhythms of life, and ways of perceiving. Like a blink, the work ruptures automated and familiar cycles, propelling them forward then back again.”

With Baldacchino’s work on windows, his photographs will show how they modulate the interior onlooker’s perception, as days and seasons go by, of what is exterior and, vice-versa, by reflecting, refracting (when half open, at an angle) and transmitting light in different degrees.

His work freezes specific instances in these cycles that, like blinking, highlight their perpetual motion. “A blink is also a moment of exception, to one’s gaze, much like a window is a moment of exception to the opaque presence of a wall,” Baldacchino says.

Van Malderen will be repurposing objects from day-to-day life, usually taken for granted – “not unlike blinking” – putting into question what the elements that make up people’s daily routines can mean and represent. He decomposes people’s experience of objects, proposing a new time-frame to the encounter with furniture, creating a rupture in their daily rhythm, and asks his audience to imagine what can happen if they are not preoccupied with the usual function, habit and necessity that furniture triggers.

Tom Van Malderen’s work ranges from buildings to furniture, installations and exhibition design. He likes to probe the intersections between art, design and architecture in his practice; always on the lookout for material gestures in everyday constellations, split personalities in objects and ambiguities in the construction of social space.

Past exhibitions include ‘Good Conditions’ (DMW Gallery, Antwerp, Belgium, 2019), ‘Except for Access Only’ (Malta Contemporary Art, Valletta, Malta 2018) and ‘Good Walls Make Good Neighbours’ (Valletta International Visual Arts Festival, Malta 2015). Tom designed several sets and exhibitions like ‘Superlikes’ for ZfinMalta, ‘Homo Melitensis’ the Malta Pavilion at the 57th Venice Art Biennial and ‘Malta, Land of Sea’ for BOZAR, Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels.

Nigel Baldacchino (b. 1989) is an artist and design architect based in Malta. His artistic practice extends to various media, including photography, music production, video, text, and design of physical objects / spaces.

His use of photography as a medium tends mostly towards a painterly artistic dynamic, in that his work is often less about showcasing content than it is about evoking mood through visual expression and conveying personal comments on the perception of a knowingly shared reality. His impetus towards taking photographs runs loose in theme, and is often fueled instead sporadically by his own recurring musings and observations about the way one relates to the world around them through their presence in space and their perception of it.

Past collective photographic exhibitions include ‘Sense of Place’ (BOZAR Centre of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium, 2012), ‘In Transit’ (NRW Forum in Dusseldorf / Stadskantoor and Leewarden, 2017) and ‘Transitions’ (Painture Fraiche, Brussels Belgium, 2020).

Prints of his photographs and work in video were acquired by the The Malta National-Community Art Museum in 2017 as part of their collection. His photography was also published on GUP Magazine’s first edition of ‘FRESH EYES’ (2020).

In 2019 Nigel published ‘Soon Out of Context’ (Unsolicited Press) featuring instances of his own poetry presented in dialogue with found images lifted from old publications, now in the public domain.