ARTZ ID visits The Goldfinch by Joseph Farrugia at Splendid, Valletta. As soon as you walk in one can really feel the intensity of this collection, from the raw space to the lights and the powerful visuals of each work. We had the pleasure to go through each piece with Joseph Farrugia where he started off by telling us about the very first piece created three years ago. Hers’s what Joseph had to say about this collection and work.
How did you first start this collection, what was the first thing that sparked the idea and inspiration behind it?
I started thinking about this series during the summer of 2017, as I was becoming concerned by an escalation of actions restricting freedom of expression through an increase in libel suits, SLAPP orders and online intimidation. I had started the series using oil colours but following Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination I felt compelled to switch to charcoal which is more austere. The immediacy of texture pertaining to the graphite set the tone for the rest of the seriesI switched to more austere charcoal as the medium which was used for the rest of the series.
Whilst looking at your work one can really see a story being told behind every piece with no need of reading any caption, how important is it for you that the audience recognise and relate to your work?
Art is primarily an expression of the artist’s emotions and thoughts, but if it is made public, it also has to communicate and resonate with the audience. Therefore, once a decision is taken to exhibit artworks, there must also be an intention to communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas which may also be subject to interpretation by the viewer. This does not imply that the message and the form it takes has to be blatant. The beauty of it is that the work itself can provoke emotions and response from the viewer, which can frequently be source of inspiration to the artist as well.
Which is your favourite piece and why?
At this point, The Fog is my preferred piece. The concept of a ship on the horizon casting its vision on a decadent landscape through fog reflects in many ways how Malta is under the international spotlight. It is an allusion to the reputational damage being caused by issues which Daphne wrote about – corruption scandals, the passport scheme. Her assassination added to the negative image that Malta currently is suffering from.
Proceeds for this exhibition shall go to The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, how important is it for art to make a statement in such situations?
Art is statement. A piece of music, writing on the wall, a landscape painting or installation – they are all statements of one kind or other, otherwise they cannot be termed as art. In this case it is a direct statement about a state of affairs leading to an assassination which has scarred our society forever. Although we cannot undo what happened, artists have a duty to apply pressure to raise awareness, to bring to light the true horror of what happened with a view to reduce the chances of a recurrence of these events. I have also refrained from including any likeness to Daphne Caruana Galizia in these works both out of respect for her memory and also because I believe that the entire incident has universal implications. This exhibition is essentially a cry of protest and anger.
What’s the future like for your artistic practise? Do you see this collection evolve or will you jump onto another subject and series?
There may be a continuation of this series as events develop, concurrent with other themes I am exploring. Throughout my life I have tended to meditate on objects to use them as a focus for my painting. This process may take years both in identifying the artefacts and also to produce the works, which is why I do not exhibit frequently. The Goldfinch exhibition is an example. The artefact is the cage and the works are spread over a period of three years.
All proceeds of this exhibition will go to The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation. The exhibition will be open until the 23rd of October 2020.