‘The Streak’ – Telling a tale of Isabelle Borg’s life | Exhibition Review

Spazju Kreattiv in Valletta is displaying a wide selection of works of the deceased Maltese artist Isabelle Borg. An exhibit that will keep you in her wake, you will be able to physically skim through her sketchbook, which holds all understanding of her genius artistic output. Unquestionably, you will have the opportunity to feel the emotion of awe upon entering the space as themes such as that of primitive, landscape, portraiture and abstracted works, all sweep the gallery with her innovative and bold concepts. Whether it is a painting spotted on the back of a canvas or portraits of people who appear to us as strangers; it is curated in such a way that we feel nostalgic of who Isabelle Borg was. All works have been carefully curated with no sequence but in a precise thematic order, inspiringly handled by Curator Lisa Gwen and The Isabelle Borg  Collection Creative Director; Maria Galea.

photo credits: Audrey Rose Mizzi

Born in 1959, Isabelle Borg’s fulfilled experiences will lead us to the here and now, her legacy. Having lived both in London and in Malta with temporary stays in Berlin,  and Ireland her career as a renowned, Maltese artist involved participating in numerous collectives and solo exhibitions with her first ever exhibition ‘paintings’ held at the Archaeology Museum in 1985. This exhibition has  triumphed in unearthing an iconic artist with the community.

The first work I laid eyes upon within this glorious space is that of Lovers in The Bull. Without having to look at the label of the work, the meaning may be subtle yet simultaneously obvious. An intimate but distant couple. These loosely created forms are floating slap bang in the belly of the bull. What makes this work so noteworthy is that, from observation alone, some of Borg’s works in that space, in what we may address as the primitive series, are customised stamps of Borg’s signature. Her signature is occasionally scattered onto a few of her works. I cannot prevent myself from making the association to Picasso’s reference of the bull. Picasso’s “use of” was also at times a metaphor of self-identification. To discover such a meaning by chance is only a small aspect of what makes the put-together of this exhibition so thrilling. The exact capture of individualistic facial expressions, whether solemn or joyous, from those of her sitters, exquisitely brings out her mark, through an effortless vibrant use of colour.

For many who knew her, this might fiercely be an emotional visit. A tape on repeat in the last room is on a loop, that tells dear stories of her persevering and bold nature. Those who did not have the opportunity of meeting her, can still identify with her aura because she so successfully poured her very essence into the works.

The exhibition is in honour of a Maltese woman who radiated the local scene with her creativeness in combination with what many describe as her bubbly character. Such aspects represent her journey in art and in life. This is a story of a woman who will never be forgotten.

This exhibition was organised by Marie Gallery 5.

Supported by: APS Bank, Spazju Kreattiv, Mapfre Middlesea, People & Skin, Artz id and Intervisions.

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