The line of the grotesque | Javier Formosa

As part of our continuing coverage of the young Maltese artists featured in the recently-concluded Divergent Thinkers 2 exhibition, we speak to Javier Joseph Formosa, who’s currently following a course in Fine Arts at the MCAST Institute of Art and Design.

"From a very young age, I always had this urge to do something creative. I discovered art at the age of three. I remember drawing traditional Maltese feasts and also, I used to buy holy pictures to draw saints since I was in love with and fascinated by this aspect of the experience. My parents used to take me to every single church to show me sacred art, since I was very interested in it. In fact, traditional feasts were my first inspiration for art. Also I remember myself building churches with Lego blocks.

"Afterwards, I used to paint these blocks as if they were actually lit up. When I was growing up I decided to take art seriously. At the age of nine I started attending The Malta Society of Arts and Commerce in Valletta, and took Art as an optional subject in Secondary school. I decided to continue on art at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School in Naxxar, where I was taught under Robert Zahra and Paul Vella Citen. After finishing my A-Levels I started attending MCAST Art and Design, where at the moment I'm following a degree in Fine Arts.

"My educational process was quite vast I must say, but although I learnt a lot on how to tackle a painting or a drawing and experiment with various other mediums, I think that the most important aspect from my educational process was how to criticise a work of art. I believe that it is very essential for artist to know exactly how to look at art. It is very important for artists to have 'the brain' and not just 'the hand'.

Javier Joseph Formosa

Javier Joseph Formosa

"I have to say they that I come from a family who has a great interest in art. This comes especially from my mother's relatives (in fact, her mother was a painter). She used to paint beautiful landscapes on canvases and glass. One of her sisters was also a painter, and another sister of hers was more interested in photography, but she was also interested in painting and drawing. On the other hand, my mum was mostly inclined towards textiles. In fact she used to attend the Malta Society of Arts in the 70s.

"My art has developed drastically. I experiment with various mediums and deal with different concepts. In fact I'm interested in various subjects like spirituality, the paranormal, melancholia, the universe, the macabre and the human body. My work used to be more organic and very surreal, and I was more attracted to painting. I had a great interest in fetuses and organs. I was more inclined towards biological elements. Nowadays my art has changed a lot as it became very geometric, minimalist and very symbolic and now, I'm more focused on drawing and photography as I believe that these are the forms which play to my strengths. I tend to be inspired by macabre subject matter. My aim in art is to produce something simple and appealing from something which is very grotesque and disgusting.

Javier Formosa photo

"The works of mine featured in the Divergent Thinkers exhibition are a good example of this, although I was also inspired by the Constructivist artists whom I find very intriguing. When it comes to photography, I am drawn to two things: melancholia, and photojournalism. Josef Sudek was a great source of inspiration for me when it comes to this medium. I mostly capture objects that I find very interesting and have a meaning or a story behind them and also people that I find very particular and mysterious.

"My dream is to follow Masters in Fine Arts, photojournalism or History of Art abroad, especially in Nordic countries. I am toying with the idea of becoming either a lecturer or an art critic after finishing my studies, but I'm not sure about this. Becoming a freelancer is another thing that I want to do, although it is very difficult, but still I want to try this kind of job. I'm certainly not planning on staying in Malta for good. I want to spend some time exploring and looking for further inspiration for my art.

"But the next immediate step for me is definitely the MCAST annual exhibition show, to be held in June of next year. I am also considering a photographic exhibition, in collaboration with an author. I am also aiming to set up my first solo exhibition after finishing my degree in 2015."