Emanuel Fiorentino
in The Sunday Times
23 April 2006

Exploring Light

For his fourth one-man exhibition, which can be currently viewed at the Vee Gee Bee Art Gallery in Valletta, Gozitan artist Mark Sagona has chosen the title Visions of Light.  

Born in Victoria in 1976, Sagona first came into the scene in 2000 with his exhibition Analytical Forms, which was held at the Ministry for Gozo in his home town.  This was followed by the Recent Insights exhibition at the Banca Giuratale in Victoria in 2004 and subsequently by Manifesting the Soul, which took place in the same year at St James Cavalier.  But apart from his personal exhibitions he has also been taking part in numerous collective exhibitions in Malta and Gozo since 1992.

As the title of the present collection makes out, it is light that constitutes the essential raw element of these 20 abstract compositions.  All the works, in oil, acrylic or mixed media on canvas, are uniformly titled Visions of Light with just an appended number in Roman numerals to make a distinction between them.  The majority of them (16 in all) are dated 2005, with the remaining four belonging to 2006. 

Mark Sagona comes from an artistically-inclined family.  His father Joseph (b.1942) is a well-known painter, sculptor and decorator, while his sister Nicoline equally belongs to the rising generation of young artists. 

As for himself, he availed himself initially of his father’s tuition, followed by further studies at the School of Art in Valletta, at Tarġa Gap in Mosta under Anton Calleja, and at the University.  Today he teaches at the Ninu Cremona Lyceum Complex in Victoria as well as being visiting lecturer at the University of Malta and at the Gozo centre of the University.

From what I have seen so far, Sagona is proficient with the abstract genre.  It was quite evident with his previous exhibition at St James Cavalier, though it has now transpired that the current work is definitively more imbued with light than it had ever been before.   

The exhibition comes up with a handsomely handy catalogue, which illustrates all the exhibits in full colour.  It carries an introduction by Dennis Vella who notes, among other things, that Sagona “does not lose himself unduly in small formal modules; he aims rather at grand, sweeping constructions that invariably engulf the spectator, inducing a level of engagement that comes close to intimacy”.

The constructive element in these works possesses a wide range in such a manner that we cannot in any way speak of a repetitive process.  Colours are bolstered with impetuosity, but in the main they stick roughly to the three primary colours and their respective tonalities.  Occasionally the palette is toned down, as with VI, with its superimposition of light bluish tones, as opposed to the aggressive chromatic belonging of VIII. 

At times the composition is tight (see XII) or else more relaxed as with the horizontal format of XV and XVI.  In most cases the general feeling is that of linearity, though there are also instances where the curvilinear element, as can be noted with V, XV and XIX, is predominant. 

The chromatic impulses as so visibly attained in these works by Mark Sagona, apart from opening up new windows for his exploration of light, that they should be sound pointers towards his evolving relationship with the medium of paint.

The exhibition continues till Saturday.  After that it will be transferred to the art..e gallery in Library Street in Victoria where it will be open between May 5 and 25.   

Emmanuel Fiorentino

The Sunday Times (of Malta), 23 April 2006


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