Texture, Fabric and Body – Homebody in Review

If one is inclined to enter through the doors of MUŻA, and make his way to the space dedicated to Homebody, the first solo exhibition of Maria Borg, one cannot help but notice the semi-transparent curtain suspended at the entrance of the space. The first glimpse of the paintings on the other side of the curtain is through a distorted lens that makes them appear to blur at the edges, and the other individuals who have attended the exhibition are also seen through this rather indistinct filter. The name of the exhibition itself suggests an individual who enjoys spending time at home with only himself as company, and those who are poised to enter through the curtain obscuring the paintings within keep this in mind before parting it. 


The canvases of Maria Borg’s paintings may consist of flat surfaces, however the common day objects that they depict appear to leap out to the viewer, shedding light on the artist’s fascination with texture and detail. One painting of a single leather glove focuses on the smooth and glossy surface of the material. Another canvas takes on a similar perspective of a full rubbish bag and the shiny quality of the flexible plastic that it consists of. In another painting, the artist depicts a sheer bra, undone from its clasps and suspended on a coat hanger, whilst in another, a light pink denim jacket appears to be hovering upright without the aid of any particular device. 

The painting which, despite having been painted last, claims its place at the centre of the exhibition, is a rather large artwork of a deep red fabric that appears to be draped over a body crouched on the ground, thus concealing this figure from the prying eyes of the viewer. Similarly to all the paintings that have been exhibited in Homebody, this painting seems to compel the viewer who, by bringing his own baggage of knowledge to the work of art, is able to carve his own interpretation into the canvas. 


The image of a body is implicit when one gazes at the depiction of such mundane objects, despite the lack of any figures in the paintings themselves. These objects are evocative precisely because of their association with the bodies that they belong to, and one cannot help but feel a sense of frustration when looking at Maria Borg’s paintings because the absence of any physical body in relation to items of clothing and other common objects that lie close to the skin seems absurd. This, however, is precisely the desired reaction that these paintings were intended to instil, enabling the viewer to gaze at these common and domestic objects through an entirely different lens than the one they are accustomed toone that is coloured by an almost obsessive attention to texture and detail. 

The questions pertaining to the identity of the body whom these objects belong to, or the ghostly figures who are either concealed under one of these objects or left unpaintedbut whose presence is nonetheless keenly feltare left unanswered. Despite the more apparent differences that exist between a bra and a garbage bag, and the sentiments associated with them, the beauty of these mundane objects is further amplified by the attention that the individual gives to them. Homebody enables the viewers to cast a slightly longer glance at the common objects that pepper their everyday lives and that would otherwise go quite unnoticed.

Much like the way in which the central artwork of Homebody depicts a piece of fabric concealing what lies beneath, the curtain at the entrance of the exhibition space covers the paintings and individuals within, giving their appearance texture whilst doing so and preventing the viewer from discerning the contents within at first glance. A sense of frustration is not unlikely to be felt, in the same way that the absence of any bodies from the paintings elicits frustration in the viewer. A ghostly interaction with a body is teased in each one of the paintings of Maria Borg’s exhibition, and the curtain itself almost acts as a framing device for everyone and everything inside, morphing them into objects of the exhibition and similar to the paintings themselves. At first glance, the objects appear to be as mundane and as normal as ever, but when the viewers gaze at them for a little while longer and a little bit closer, then, almost against their will, their feelings are compelled to get involved.


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