Reviews

Professor Mario Buhagiar
Forward to the Manifesting the Soul Exhibition Catalogue
September 2004

Mark Sagona (b.1976) comes from an artistically gifted family and received his first training in the workshop of his father Joseph (b.1942) who through hard work and personal sacrifice has earned a deserved reputation as a designer and decorator. His rigorously academic upbringing gave him the essential preparation for subsequent studies at the Malta Government School of Art, and the Life Classes at Targa Gap, directed by the artist Anton Calleya (b.1955). His significant breakthrough came, on the other hand, through the contacts he established, as a History of Art candidate at the University of Malta, with the artist and academic, Dr. Joseph Paul Cassar (b.1958). Dr. Cassar’s stimulating classes in Modern and Contemporary Art History, revealed new artistic horizons. They brought him into contact with, and taught him to appreciate, a visual language that he had previously largely ignored. More importantly, they opened up exciting new possibilities of pictorial expression that he is now assiduously exploiting.

The extent of Mark Sagona’s progression from the figural bias of his formative years can be experienced in this exhibition in which his expression becomes essentially abstract. The development does not come as a surprise. There were clear hints in his previous one- man show (Recent Insights, Banca Giuratale, Victoria, Gozo: 24.01 – 08.02, 2004) in which the idiosyncratic views of Gozo were conditioned by broad bands of colour resulting in rich kaleidoscopic effects in which light was the determining factor.

Appropriately entitled Manifesting the Soul, this is an emotionally charged exhibition that reflects the changing moods of a highly sensitive young man in which colour is perceptively manipulated to express the joys and fears that haunt his impressionable mind. Mark Sagona is essentially a Romantic who responds to life’s unfolding drama, and to the world around him, with an intellectual maturity that that is unexpected considering his age. The titles he has given his paintings are intended to help us unravel their intended meaning, but I feel that they are not really necessary. Our reaction to art is a highly subjective matter, and abstract art often renders titles irrelevant.

With this exhibition Mark Sagona has consolidated his reputation as an artist of promise. It is a stage, albeit an important one, in his ongoing artistic development. The essential requisite is that he remains true to himself and that he gives his ideas sufficient time to crystallize and evolve. His academic point of departure will stand him in good stead for, in the final analysis, it remains the basis of all good art.
 

Professor Mario Buhagiar is the Head of the History of Art Programme, Faculty of Arts, University of Malta.

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