In ‘The Splendid’ in Strada Stretta, parallel to St. George’s Square was Misc, an exhibition by Fine Arts University students showcasing their works of art students worked on throughout the year.
Like many bars and inns along the notorious street, ‘The Splendid’ has been given new life and nowadays is mainly used as an artstic event space. Going down Archbishop Street, at the corner with Strait Street, I immediately noticed the brightly coloured sign reminiscent of Strada Stretta’s heydays with the former lounge’s name, indicating that I was in the right place. A few doors up, the Splendid makes its presence known by presenting the the establishment’s name on the front door threshold.
Upon entering, I was greeted by one of the artists, a fellow arts student and friend of mine Beatrice Portelli. She showed me the paintings, explaining the thoughts and processes behind some of the art works. From landscapes, still lives and portraits to abstract works, all in different media and styles, I couldn’t help but be amazed at these artists’ talent and their potential as I walked around the exhibition. The artworks were exhibited in a way by which common themes are brought out – the first room, for example, primarily showcases still life interpretations – but at the same time, one could find a portrait or a landscape painting in a room with a predominant theme, shaking up the idea of the artworks falling within a category. This essentially captured the theme of the exhibition itself – that there is no theme; that the exhibition was a collection of miscellaneous works, abbreviated as Misc.
When I asked Beatrice why she decided to pursue Fine Arts, she said, “Well, I wanted to learn more about the theoretical and practical aspects of art. When we found ourselves in front of a painting by Beatrice herself in the last room, she gave me some time to think about her painting. The painting is composed of three main parts: in the lower part, a galaxy; in the background, a swirling, never-ending clock, and in the fore ground, a pair of arms with contorted fingers. ‘What do you think of it?’ Beatrice asked me, waiting for my judgment. ‘Right off the bat, I think you’ve done an amazing job, it looks like something from a Dali painting!’ I said. The great thing about art is that even though we had different interpretations of the artwork, any ‘meaning’ could be applied to it.
Later, I spoke to Alison Cilia Werdmölder, another Fine Arts student exhibiting her works at Misc. I asked her about her painting Abstract Landscape Interpretation and her artistic influences: ‘I love researching artists and their processes, even if it’s a style completely different to mine – there’s always something to learn. I enjoy testing out new styles and methods… With Abstract Landscape Interpretation, the assignment was to paint the view from a window at the School of Art in Valletta and to make an abstract interpretation of it. I tried lots of different styles like a lot of popular artists, but in the end, it was introspection that led to the final piece. I am very much in love with the sea, and when I was looking out at the view, I found myself loving the multitude of tones in the sea and ignoring everything else. In the end I turned it on its side because the freedom of abstract is that you can do that!” When asked what Misc means to her, Alison said ‘I learnt about how much work it takes behind the scenes – the planning, the coordination between all the artists and trying to solve all the problems that come up in the process. On a personal level, with Misc being my first exhibition, I can really give myself the self respect in calling myself an artist and putting my art out there. The response to Misc has been incredibly lovely and encouraging’.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Valletta, Misc gave one an opportunity to take a break from the city life, and to see for oneself and appreciate the works of the University’s Fine Arts students and their artistic talent.