Unveiling the Spirit
Mark Sagona can confidently be considered among
the leading artists of the rising generation.
Hailing from Gozo where the artistic scene
generally tends to assume more quiet proportions
than in Malta, the initial and sustained
encouragement from his family made him redouble
his efforts to set a mark for himself in the art
His collection of 41 recent paintings entitled
Manifesting the Soul, and which is his third
personal exhibition so far, is currently hosted
in the main hall of St James Cavalier. Even for
those who do not go beyond mere surface
concerns, it is a feast of colours, light and,
Sagona (b.1976), the son of artist and decorator
Joseph Sagona from whom he first received his
artistic training, first appeared on the local
artistic scene in 2000 with his exhibition
Analytical Forms at the Ministry for Gozo in
This was followed earlier this year with his
Recent Insights exhibition, concerned with local
landscapes, which was put up at the Banca
Giuratale in Victoria.
From one exhibition to the other it has become
quite clear that this young artist is
assiduously following new avenues of expression
at each stage of his development.
With the current exhibition, consisting of works
produced during 2003 and 2004, pure abstraction
becomes the overriding language to explore the
deep questions concerning the realm of the
spirit, with such elements as God, the infinite,
birth, death, fear and joy.
Abstraction here attains a genuine dimension
where the spirit is pealed off from its tangible
veils to reach a visionary illustration of what
lies underneath. That can only be reached within
the category of sensitive individuals to which
Mark Sagona belongs.
The basic elements that partake of his
iconographic approach are the dark grids that
frame, encapsulate or even delimit other
elements which for him define a particular
symbolism, many times of a cryptic nature,
though at the end of the day they surely remain
invested with an aesthetic paraphernalia.
Though abstraction remains paramount throughout
the entire range of the present works, certain
acquisitions of form help in subscribing to a
revelation of the subject under investigation.
Thus, for instance, in Truth Unveiled a curtain
seems to be on the point of being drawn aside to
reveal the blistering light at the back. An
equivalent sensation could be applied to his
Open Gates or to the crossroads pattern on which
Incrocio is based.
When I met the artist last week at the
exhibition venue itself, I observed that he had
the urge to pause in front of every exhibit,
relating in each case the particular themes or
incidents which inspired them. It could be the
death of a close friend, the idea of repulsion,
as in the homonymous work, or just a moment of
Dipping his inspiration from art history, he
explained how certain details have been sparked
off by his studies of old masters, in particular
in the surrealistically-haunted expression of
Hieronymus Bosch, though simply detached into
his abstracted imagery and hardly suspected
unless one is told about them.
Each canvas is thus a stage for exploring
humanity within us, encumbered as it is with
moments that either smile or sneer at us.
According to the particular moods that set off
these paintings, the configuration of the
grid-work changes. It becomes advisable in fact
not to look at the titles simply as mere
appendages but as something that helps to define
the particular theme under investigation.
Keeping that in mind, the general title
Manifesting the Soul gathers a true significance
in that at whichever painting one’s attention is
drawn at any particular moment, thereare
invariable moods that one can find affinity
The Sunday Times (of Malta)
7 November 2004