Chunks of flesh on canvas

The second collective exhibition by a trio of local artists once again takes apart the human figure at the Auberge d’Italie, Valletta.  

The Auberge d’Italie will be hosting Bodies II, the second exhibition by Jesmond Vassallo, Robert Zahra and Gilbert Calleja focusing on the study of the human figure and the creative development upon the theme. The present works bear testimony to the artists’ maturing personal aesthetics and are marked by a very strong sense of individuality.

In Vassallo’s works, the human figures no longer feature alone and they are part of the studio microcosm, sometimes moving away from the centre of the work and accommodating themselves within the bigger picture of activity going on within the studio. Some of the paintings portray the latter in a literal manner, as they depict not the subject per se, but the act of drawing from life itself. It is the sketching or painting process that becomes the subject of Vassallo’s works.

This concern with capturing and recording ‘the’ moment takes second place in Calleja’s and Zahra’s works each of whom chose to work primarily with the flesh and all the inherent literal and metaphorical meanings attached to it.

Zahra is more interested in the inherent architectural structure to a body, scraping off the flesh to delineate the skeletal complexity suspending the remaining carcass. Bold lines, splashes of colour and carefully placed marks characterise the artist’s works.
Calleja’s bodies are stocky combinations of chunks of flesh, often in improbable stances, tense and full of momentum.

His restricted palette, direct application of paint and strong brushmarks add further to the primitive aesthetic from which he seeks inspiration.

The exhibition is being held at the Auberge d’Italie, Merchants’ Street, Valletta and was made possible by the Malta Arts Fund and the Farsons Foundation. It will be open for the public from Friday, October 7 until the November 3.