GROUNDWATERS curated by Gabriel Zammit brings together a collection of artworks and objects made by a similar group of outsider individuals in Malta. The exhibition looks into the works’ unique aesthetic logic as well as the stories of pain, hope, survival, and strength contained within them.
The common theme uniting the artworks in GROUNDWATERS is that their creation stems from a deeply felt need which is unselfconscious and rooted in necessity or raw experience. Whether this need is therapeutic, expressive, meditative, or magical, it is not artistic in the conventional sense and veers towards using aesthetic practice as a transformative ritual.Other objects included in the exhibition, such as African fetish dolls, ex-voto offerings, and the alchemical philosopher’s stone, function in the same way and have been introduced into the exhibition complex to provide a touchstone narrative of transformation around which the other artworks gather, each adding or taking according to its specific valence. The exhibition is the first in Malta to explore outsider perspectives. GROUNDWATERS takes its name from Charles Russell’s 2011 publication and seeks to extend Russell’s research into new contexts. – Gabriel Zammit , 2022
The search for raw art, untouched by the corrupting effects of culture, led the artist and art historian Jean Debuffet to collect, under the heading art brut, work made by artists who were living and functioning outside the established centres of cultural and psychological normality.
“[W]e sense that we are encountering individuals who may be very much like us but who also seem to exist in another dimension of our world, suggesting degrees of intensity or estrangement that may be at once fascinating, desirable, and frightening … the mystery of otherness and its closeness loom[s] forth even more strongly in the encounter with the work of outsider artists, whose inner journeys pull us deep into themselves and into ourselves.”
Participating artists: Anonymous, Emma Attard, Adrian Camilleri, William Driscoll, Emma Johnson, Salvina Muscat, Joe Vassallo