A quick round-up of articles about Maltese art, artists having rants and snippets of interest penned during January.

Lions on your door: lion head door knockers of Malta and Gozo by Raisa Tarasova.

Balcony spotter Raisa Tarasova scours the Maltese islands for knockers and identifies no less than 24 different lion types. My favourite is grumpy cat lion, below:

Grumpy cat lion
Grumpy Cat Lion knocker in lower Republic Street Valletta. Photo: Raisa Tarasova

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Round and round the roundabout by Seb Tanti Burlo.

Witty cartoonist Seb Tanti Burlo has been exercising his pen of late to produce excellent monthly articles that look at Malta through his observant eye. This one deals with the transport conundrums of our little island.

Round and Round the Roundabout | Seb Tanti Burlo
Round and Round the Roundabout | Seb Tanti Burlo

Too long have we been complaining about this situation, yet why is nothing done? All we get are resurfaced roads, bypasses bypassing bypasses, and threats of island-connecting bridges.

I am fed up of using a money-guzzling, polluting machine for mobility. Fed up of administrations that shirk their responsibility to provide a healthier and up-to-date, living, national infrastructure. Fed up of having to pen this article after reading so many on the same topic. All of us want a change. Some in their own way are trying to effect it.

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I lost the war too by Isaac Azzopardi.

In December, following an Arts Council mini course about Art Criticism, artist Isaac Azzopardi started an art crit blog called Sieve. I love his no-bullshit approach to art and the openness with which he has launched into this project. The following is a short snippet of the post that introduced the blog:

Art for me means a lot, and nothing. I won’t bother with too much detail, but I’ve always loved artists like Kiefer for this reason: their art is consciously made to be degradable, they won’t sacrifice ideas for the sake of preservation or legacy. Making art for me is making ideas into flesh—those ideas the product of a person who in turn is a product of his or her collective experiences within a society, and that society itself another product of. It is the exploration of those ideas, not the person; how they might have come about and what they might teach us, is what makes art worthwhile.

…Ultimately, this platform aims to focus on Malta and what makes Malta and what we have to say about it.

This month, Isaac wrote about Ryan Falzon’s exhibition “We Lost the War”.

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Contemporary Art in Malta: how and where it happens by Raisa Tarasova.

Raisa has been busy this month, this time lending her acerbic tongue to the local contemporary arts scene. She comments on art politics, exclusivism, the pitfalls of navigating a pool of people so small that the players outshine the work and calls for more public-friendly art such as Twitch’s.

The art scene in Malta shares many common traits with the local politics: the lack of transparency, nepotism and being personality-driven, to name a few. Openings of exhibitions are little spectacles of cult where it is expected of attendees to praise the artist (“prosit, keep it up!” or “this is so interesting!”).

…‘Interest in art’ cannot be treated as a phenomenon of its own, unaffected by the social interactions surrounding it, because there is simply not enough distance between the artists and the critics, on one hand, and between the artists and the audience – on the other.

…While personal  tastes are entirely up to individuals to pursue, the claims that ‘interest in the arts’ is to be given a paramount status of national importance should be followed up by boosting public arts venues and arts displays in public spaces – squares, gardens, streets, beaches and schools. Yet, the opposite is being done by giving these spaces away for private development – which ensures not only a poor access to the arts, but a general drop in living standards.

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The Man Behind the Front by Nicole Parnis.

Just in case you missed it, Brikkuni have started drip-launching their new album Rub Al Khali. Frontman Mario Vella dropped a link to the (epic) title track back in December and then went on to unveil the raw and melancholic Ghandna. Trackage Scheme blogger Nicole Parnis sat down with the prickly-but-sensitive Mario and attempted to get past the persona.

Rub Al Khali - Brikkuni
Brikkuni’s new album Rub Al Khali is being released slowly on https://brikkuni.bandcamp.com/

(about Ghandna) It’s more a song about love rather than a love song, championing the beauty in the mundane, or as Mario puts it, “Monotonija Sabiħa”– some things just sound better in Maltese. Everyone who’s ever been there will recognize the pitiful waltz of denial leading up to an inevitable fallout.

…Far from coming across as scorned, Rub Al Khali is presented in the most gorgeous, sensitive way. It’s a pretty stark contrast coming from the “savage” we think we know.

It’s hard to stop a man who gives no fucks, and it’s even harder to kick a man when he’s down. It begs the question – is this the most complex man in Malta?