Steve Mallia, 'Natural Drawn Artist',
in The Gozo Times Supplement, The Times of Malta,
8 September 2003

It was almost inevitable that Mark Sagona would become an artist. Living in a house in Victoria which as you enter can easily be mistaken for a church, such is the intricate design on the walls carved by his father’s hand which surround a number of elegant frescoes, and working from a downstairs room-cum-studio that has toil written all over it, Mark makes a big understatement when he says he was brought up in the surroundings of his father, Joseph. He has been immersed by it from a very young age.

“I used to help in everything I could but I was more attracted to painting than sculpture. As a young boy I used to constantly draw saints and angels because that was what I saw. I accompanied my father, when I was not at school or not occupied with study, in all the churches he worked in.”

He effectively became an assistant to his father, who has works in many of Gozo’s churches.

Since 1992, when he turned 15, he has been taking part in collective exhibitions, first in Gozo and then in Malta.

“I started off with the usual works many begin with: landscapes and still-lifes. For a short period of time I was also involved in the design and production of opera scenery for the Astra Theatre. During this period I also designed a number of items intended for festa decoration obviously in the traditional idiom but this was definitely not my vein.”

University – where he obtained a first class degree and an MA with distinction in art history – changed his art almost beyond recognition. “Suddenly I became more aware of the great modern artists and studied in depth the raison d’être behind the modern movements. I was immediately captivated by Cubism and the study of form and space as expressed especially in the early works of Picasso and Braque.”

Mark, who now teaches the subject he loves, presented his first one-man exhibition soon after completing his degree in 1999.

“Form and colour are probably the most important aspects of my artistic production and thought, irrespective of the subject. It is not the subject that counts but its formal qualities. Therefore, even in landscapes for example, it is not just painting a landscape but rendering it in terms of form and colour so as to achieve a personal timbre.”

However, there is also a spiritual dimension to his works, he explains. “The darker parts of my paintings usually relate to the less positive aspects of life while the lighter-toned areas can be generally linked to what is happiness, hope, joy or light: the contrast between light and darkness, the good and evil aspects of our life, joy and sorrow.”

Mark is planning to hold another exhibition soon.

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