Dennis Vella
Text for the Visions of Light Exhibition Catalogue
March 2006

Visions of Light: Mark Sagona in 2006

The recent paintings by Mark Sagona now confirm an impression I had formed some two years ago on viewing his previous collection. His latest works clearly demonstrate the ease with which he approaches concepts and moods which are best expressed in panoramic and scenographic abstraction.

Using various ‘viewpoints’ around which to spread out the singular components of his pictures, Sagona brings to bear a fast-growing language of composition that puts his generally harmonious colours to very good effect. The artist 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.

As with many abstractionists, light is an integral part of Sagona’s paintings. Accordingly the complex spatial dimensions suggested by the way solid zones of colour alternate or overlap allow varying types and levels of brightness to impart distinct characters to many of the paintings in this series. He can blend his colours with what is conventionally termed ‘taste’ although he is not averse to introducing the occasional jarring note that sends a shiver down the viewer who might have already begun to relate to some picture as mere decoration. In this light, while Sagona’s colour hints at faith and optimism one cannot escape the feeling that doubt and melancholy are ever far away.

While Sagona’s previous collection of abstracts was individually titled, he now feels that the overall, collective character of the present series is somehow more significant than any title attached to any one work. He appreciates that there are, collectively, as many differences as there are similarities in his paintings. All the same they are clearly different facets of the same personality, and as with all collections, will benefit greatly from being viewed together for this first, and last, time. Mark Sagona has moved on, eager to enrich his skill and his idiom, if they are better to express his maturing vision.

Dennis Vella M.A. lectures on twentieth century Maltese art at the University of Malta and is Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Heritage Malta.

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