Malta’s artistic history is just like the country’s actual history – it belies a whole lot of different cultural influences and different trains of thought over time, all formed around a central traditionally Catholic identity.
With more and more Maltese artists finding ways to express themselves in these modern times, it is also great to be aware of some of the different artistic movements that were a part of Malta’s story.
Here are some of the coolest artwork that this island has produced.
1. The catacombs’ wall frescoes
St. Agatha’s Catacombs, Rabat
Beautiful and full of symbolism, they are a wonderful example of Early Christian art.
2. Silent Church
Frank Portelli, 1956
This haunting image displays overtones of death, despair, and violence. It makes one think about the mechanisations of war vs. humanity.
Carmelo Mangion, undated
A 20th century affluent woman is painted here instead of the Biblical Salome, where she is locked in a piercing glare with St. John’s blackened and severed head.
4. Martyrdom of St. Catherine of Alexandria
While Mattia Preti technically might not be Maltese, the attention to detail of St. Catherine’s bare breasts coupled with the interesting perspective makes this one of the best paintings produced in Malta.
Antoine de Favray
Similar to Mattia Preti, this French artist is often considered quasi-Maltese due to the influential work he did in Malta. In this picture, he captures the critical emotion he was famous for.
Austin Camilleri, 2008
Seeing former Minister for Gozo Giovanna Debono side-by-side with the Mona Lisa, even mimicking Mona Lisa, is an interesting local take in the debate of Maltese identity.
Giuseppe Hyzler, 1821
The intense stare coupled with the Roman Catholic background makes this a quintessential Maltese self-portrait.
8. Death of St. Philip of Aggira
This is just a great painting. It shows a deep technical ability, as well as fine examples of perspective and chiaroscuro.
9. Large Sleeping Figures
Caesar Attard, 1995
This ambiguous painting makes one wonder. Does this represent sleep, or indeed, the long sleep that comes with death?
10. The Virtues of Mankind
One of Malta’s most eminent artists, this painting can be found hanging above the stage at the Salesian Theatre.
11. Battle of Ascalon
This historical painting by Spada gives a intense and powerful visual into the life of a medieval knight in Malta.
You can see Chircop contemplating an ever-changing existence through a fluidity of forms, ideas, immateriality and the realm of the mind.