2023 in Exhibitions: Here are some of our favourite shows from Malta’s art scene this year

It’s safe to say that 2023 was yet another massive year for Malta’s art scene, with a brilliant and diverse number of shows, debuts, and international collaborations for many different artists. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look back at some of Malta’s most influential artists, those entering the scene for the very first time, and what they’ve contributed to the community – in no particular order. 

JA, JA, JA! by Zvezdan Reljić

What was Zvezdan Reljić’s first solo show at Sliema’s relatively new R Gallery, ended up being his last solo exhibition of his life, given his untimely and tragic passing over the last days of 2023. The show, which left a massive mark on the community, comprised of a selection of print works, installations and video work that was at once masterful, riotous and flippant. Through a mix of film photography, mixed collagraphy, relief printing and video, the viewer got the chance to creep into Rejlić’s inner spirit through his uninhibited outer world. The show was curated by Julien Vinet, and was on show at Sliema’s R Gallery.

A New Gothic by Ġulja Holland

A New Gothic brought together emerging painter Ġulja Holland’s ongoing series of paintings which were completed in the UK, Portugal, and Malta. The broad and universal themes of gender, social well-being, and climate crises were instrumental in creating this series, which was on show at Valletta’s Spazju Kreattiv. The exhibition was curated by Andrew Borg Wirth, the awardee of the ARTZ ID Best Curatorial Practice Award 2022, and inaugurated by the highly esteemed curator, PAOTY judge, art historian, and Chairperson of the Liverpool Biennial, Kathleen Soriano.

Ghost Stories by Alfie Gatt

Alfie Gatt’s solo exhibition titled Ghost Stories, catapulted the viewers into a snippet of the daily life of a ‘ghost’, through hyperrealistic paintings. In this body of work, we saw Alfie’s painting style as more realistic compared to his previous ‘juxtaposition style’ of work. The exhibition was curated by Melanie Erixon and was on show at Mqabba’s Il-Kamra ta’ Fuq, an award winning art space for their programme of events, situated on top of a traditional bar in the southern region of Malta. 

ĠUF by Rebecca Bonaci

ĠUF, a project celebrating contemporary motherhood, was Rebecca Bonaci’s debut solo exhibition showcasing her paintings, presenting a modern understanding of motherhood that stirs away from the current political undertones that the term carries. The concept of motherhood and the figure of the mother were examined in a cultural-historical, philosophical, psychological and artistic depth, addressing the cultural-historical and societal changes that have changed the social position of women over this vast timeframe. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Chircop, with Ryan Falzon as project advisor, and was on show at Valletta’s Spazju Kreattiv. 


Mara #2

The second edition of Mara, which took place at Valletta’s Bureau Iniala, brought together artists and creatives who are leaving their mark on the local art scene, while also offering an opportunity for new and emerging artists. The artists who took part in the all-femme collective were Thea Vella, Katie Sims, Sasha Vella, Ioulia Chante, Leanne Lewis, Ġulja Holland, Kamy Aquilina, Louisa Chircop, Debbie Bonello, Sofia Kuzmenko, Aprille Zammit, Therese Debono, Shanice Farrugia, Wioletta Kulewska and Nicole Sciberras Debono. The collective exhibition was organised by Bureau Iniala and Marie Gallery 5, in partnership with il-lokal. 

No Time To Spare: A SPRING Collective

No Time To Spare was a collective exhibition featuring works by Rachelle Deguara, Claire Farrugia and Sheldon Saliba, curated by Elyse Tonna. As explained by Elyse, the exhibition acted as a collective call to urge us to reflect upon the diverse forms of agency that shape our spaces, cultures and the interconnected world which extends beyond the human realm. The exhibition was the second collective forming part of the SPRING Artistic Programme for Emerging Artists 2022 to 2024 by the Gabriel Caruana Foundation, supported by Arts Council Malta.

Decadence, Now.

Decadence, Now. was an exhibition that showcased a variety of artworks, objects, music, and paraphernalia from the Decadent movement. The exhibition aimed to delve into thematic universality, focusing not on the Object but on the Subject. It emphasised the plurality of perspectives on the subject, a concept central to postmodern and contemporary art practices. Among the artists who participated in Decadence, Now. were Andrew Borg Wirth, Luke Azzopardi, Michael Zerafa, and Maria Theuma. 

Backlot by Charlie Cauchi

In Backlot, Charlie Cauchi used video work, photographic images, built structures and more to break down the complex possibilities of Malta’s on-screen cinematic (mis)representation. This interdisciplinary work, based around Malta as a filming location, fused Charlie’s past academic endeavours with her current artistic and filmmaking practice.

In Search Of Line

In Search Of Line, a collective show by Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malta at the newly-inaugurated Victor Pasmore Gallery in Valletta, sought to delve into the essence of the line and its evolution over time. The exhibition featured a remarkable selection of pieces from eminent 20th-century Maltese artists such as Josef Kalleya, Alfred Chircop, and Gabriel Caruana. These works were also complemented by significant contributions from the Victor Pasmore collection. The exhibition not only showcased artworks but also includes thought-provoking essays by a cadre of distinguished artists, art writers, and philosophers, including Matthew Attard, Robert Brewer Young, Vince Briffa, Richard England, Giulia Privitelli, and Michael Zammit. It also included artistic interventions by Matthew Attard and Christian Galea. FPM Creative Director Michael Lowell designed the exhibition, while Sarah Chircop handled the curation of the project.

Crux by Tina Mifsud

In CRUX, one of two solo shows by contemporary painter Tina Mifsud for this year, she showcased five recent works in a site-specific installation in the heart of Birkirkara. Curated by architect Andrew Borg Wirth, the exhibition showcased some of Mifsud’s most captivating works – visceral, and colour-rich. 

Malta 1971 by Uno Karlsson

After an absence of over 50 years, Swedish photographer Uno Karlsson returned back on the island, together with the photographs he captured of Malta in the 1970s. Karlsson is an award-winning documentary photographer who has held a number of exhibitions and published several books. Karlsson had visited Malta in the 70s with his wife, and this year he returned to show a brilliant collection of photographs, taking the viewer back to a quieter Malta. The collection was showcased at the Malta Postal Museum in Valletta. 

SOAP TO THINK WITH by Norbert Francis Attard

SOAP TO THINK WITH is a detailed exploration of the artistic journey of Norbert Francis Attard, showcasing a diverse range of multi-media artworks created over a period of two and a half years. This solo exhibition focused on three central themes: the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the issues of political and financial corruption in Malta, and the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Attard’s approach to these subjects started from a broad, global perspective, then delved into collective experiences before focusing on personal reflections. The exhibition featured a variety of artistic expressions, including conceptual art, found objects, light installations, photography, sculpture, and graphic design.

An Ode To Summer Collective Exhibition

Ode to Summer, curated by Justine Balzan Demajo, was a captivating exhibition at Studio 57 in Valletta, showcasing the talents of artists Lydia Cecil, Tina Mifsud, and Sue Bencini. Lydia Cecil’s art is known for its representational style, drawing heavily from real-life studies. She has a unique ability to capture the essence of her portrait subjects, and takes great joy in creating contemporary still life compositions. Tina Mifsud, on the other hand, is recognised for her distinct brushwork, which is a product of extensive documentation, personal experiences, and in-depth research that she skillfully translates onto her canvases. Lastly, Sue Bencini, initially rooted in the world of jewellery fashion design, broadened her artistic horizons by venturing into clay building, a skill she honed through a course at the Malta Society of Arts.


In the throes of war, Dereje Shiferaw could not bear to witness the trauma inflicted upon children any longer. He was deeply committed to not only stopping wars but also to erasing the harrowing memories of war and violence from the minds of child soldiers. He held the belief that children, being central to humanity, must be safeguarded and never used as tools to destroy peace. This ethos was poignantly captured in his solo exhibition, OBLITERATED CHILDHOOD, which featured figurative paintings by the Ethiopian artist Dereje Shiferaw. The exhibition was held at the Christine X Art Gallery from 17th June to 8th July 2022.

Beyond What Drifts Us Apart

Beyond What Drifts Us Apart is a collaborative, residency-focused, site-specific initiative that explores the subtler stories entwined with the landscapes around historical coastal towers, delving into the evolving interplay between these environments and their non-human inhabitants. The exhibition’s visual identity artfully merges natural elements with human-made aspects through innovative typography. It incorporates the coastal outline, specifically highlighting the location of the Qalet Marku peninsula in Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq. The project features contributions from a group of talented artists: Samuel Ciantar, Fernando P Ferreira, Charlene Galea, Alfred Graf, Marija Rasa Kudabaite, and Rakel Vella. Curated by Elyse Tonna, the exhibition is supported by several organisations, including Unfinished Art Space, Mahalla, Magic Carpets, and Din l-Art Ħelwa.

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