One of the most prestigious things to make a luxury home in Malta really stand out is definitely the inclusion of objets d’art. Whether it be a painting, a sculpture or a collectible, art remains a strong investment favourite as its value tends to increase with time and with the evolution of the art world.
Here in Malta, the art scene has seen many changes and much development over the past decade or so, namely by making art more accessible through innumerable solo and collective art exhibitions around the Islands. The contemporary local art market has boomed in all directions and whilst quantity may not mirror superb quality each and every time, the onus is most certainly on a healthy diversity. With an increasing number of better trained artists, one can safely say that the products being produced also include show-stopping pieces of note.
Needless to say, foreign artists also stop over to exhibit locally as the market here is interestingly alive and curious, especially considering that many ex-pats and foreigners that have relocated to Malta or visiting temporarily, tend to gravitate towards cultural events when they get invited. However, there is not only the contemporary art to contend with but some of the country’s old masters’ work which pops up for sale in auctions from time to time.
Malta has had its fair share of important artists whose works do not only grace many churches and public buildings in the form of paintings, murals or statuary, but have also found their way in the privateluxury properties in Malta of collectors and non. The latter are many-a-time, unbeknown to them, sitting on a veritable fortune, and only when these unrecognised works turn up at auction do the collectors and experts start bidding like crazy.
The big names from the past tend to date from the time of the Knights of St John onwards. The period between the two great wars and the one immediately after World War II brought forth a bevy of artists, Maltese names and also some Italians, who were nearly all lucky enough to be sent to Rome or Florence to study art there. Many of these brushed shoulders with some of the giants of international art, and were directly inspired by them.
As for modern times, the art world has become filled with all sorts of artists, from those simulating classical forms to those who utilised the abstract as a divergence to the norm. Some of the most important contemporary names include Alfred Chircop, Anthony Catania, John Martin Borg, Anna Galea, Patrick Dalli, Pippa Toledo, Doranne Alden, Chris Urpani and many more besides.
But how does one decide what to choose, where to choose and how to choose when faced with a blank door in a new luxury home in Malta ? From experience I have found that there are two categories of art buyers – the hoarders or impulse buyers who will buy anyway and think about where they will place the art piece when they get home; and the calculated buyers who will know what they want and where they want to put it even before seeing it physically. The latter category tends to be the more difficult to satisfy and it takes some experience and a wide network of artists to reach the right solution.
The best months to view art in Malta are definitely autumn and winter when exhibitions sprout up all over, from your local parish centre to Valletta’s largest exhibition space. Check out newspapers for information about what’s happening in the art world and keep an eye on the auctions as you might find some very happy surprises.
Marika Azzopardi, a History of Art graduate, is a freelance writer/journalist and a prolific art reviewer whose writings about art appear regularly on the media. For further information and advice on choosing the right painting for your interiors contact the author on 00356 79663266.