War On Complacency

Photo by Lizzie Eldridge
Malta’s centuries’ old love affair with baroque has made it hard for other forms of art to gain a following. Any attempt at doing something different is met with indifference at best, harsh criticism at worst.

So it is telling that most reviews of Ryan Falzon’s art as presented in his We Lost The War exhibition (Spazju Kreattiv 21st January till the 26th February 2017) have been extremely positive.  Still it is difficult to move away from the reality that work such as his – modern, the file it under one broad category – remains largely an attraction for the few.

In many ways his is a complete rejection of the baroque and of its rules.  Falzon’s use of images that are crude – one critic has compared them to a child’s drawings which is quite fitting – is the complete opposite of the perfectly manicured art that routinely surrounds us.  Nor does the busy nature of his paintings, where the viewer is assaulted with text and little details all over the canvas, bear any comparison with the orderly nature of baroque.

This, however, is another little trick that the artist uses to provoke a reaction.  Fittingly as that, surely, is the true objective of art: to elicit an emotional and intellectual response in the individual.

That would certainly appear to be the main purpose behind Falzon’s art.  The bright colours that dominate his large paintings serve to draw people in only to then overwhelm them with the messages they contain.   Within them there’s a critique of Maltese society; of the conflict that lies between the religious superstition and the immoral actions that dominate everyday life.

They are images that stay with you not because of their aesthetic beauty but because of the feelings that they provoke.  They force you to examine the actions of society and how we can go unthinkingly along its norms.  In those instances where the work looks at a wider, more global subject it does so in a nuanced manner that is intelligent and informed.  There is no superficial argument made purely because it provides an easy target.

For all of the artist’s raging against all that he sees going on around him, the title of his exhibition reveals an element of defeatism.  We Lost The War could indeed be taken to be his declaration that common sense and sensibility have been defeated by hatred and greed.  Such thoughts, however, are misplaced because as long as there are people with whom work like this resonates, then there is hope that not all is lost.

If you want more, read Teodor Reljic's interview with Ryan Falzon.

Photo taken off Ryan Falzon's Facebook Page

Photo taken off Ryan Falzon's Facebook Page


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