Photos: Albert Camilleri
Haven’t had enough food this season? This new exhibition will sort out your cravings without the added pounds around the belly. Designer and photographer Sean Mallia has launched his first solo exhibition at Palazzo de Piro Mdina under the project name – Gastrografija. The expo showcases 20 photographs, with a limited edition of 10 prints per photograph.
Order and disorder are the main protagonists in this exhibition – even if food is what takes apparent centre stage. Mallia’s most gripping talent is his composition. In this sense his un-plated photographs are more successful – the drama of the positioning of the naked food against its bold background is quite captivating. Whereas the plated food looks more like very, very good restaurant photography.
Which makes sense seeing as Mallia’s first interest in gastronomy began while he was working in a restaurant.
“I started food photography when I began studying architecture and working as a waiter at Tarragon for Chef Marvin Gauci. I started to appreciate the world of gastronomy and I also developed a keen interest in the form, colour and texture of food components – looking at them the same way many designers look at stationary objects in nature which could inspire their designs,” Mallia told Lovin Malta.
Described as “photography for the soul” in the exhibition’s catalogue written by Victor Calleja, Mallia’s work is arresting – he’s not quite satisfied with the superficiality of food photography, and works hard to create a narrative with each composition. This is most apparent in two sets within the exhibition (which can be viewed in the show’s catalogue), Serious Disorder and Textured Goodness.
Mallia works with chefs and stylists to come up with interesting visuals for his food composition. But the styling of his final pieces are his own. You can detect his architectural background from his compositions – which do transmit that sense of laboured perfectionism that is typical of the architecture profession.
Mallia creates drama from the most ordinary objects. And surely his most weirdly-beautiful piece is News Fish. It’s fun, it’s macabre, it’s visceral. A great example of something that makes no real sense, but is still pretty thought-provoking.
If you want to have a look-see for yourself, head down to Mdina. The exhibition is open until the end of January 2017. Here’s the event page with all the details.