New & Now
Artist Karen Caruana on Malta’s changing landscape ahead of exhibition next month
Karen Caruana's nostalgic walk through the current evidence of Malta's state of building development flux, expressed through oil painting.

Lisa Borain

Lisa Borain

Local artist Karen Caruana is a young woman who has the gift of being able to express herself via the visual arts. Currently, she's illustrating her nostalgic walk through the current evidence of Malta's state of building development flux.

Bygone Heritage

These figurative, almost surreal oil paintings characterise Karen's wish to stay in a better past and a direct sensitivity towards a questionable future. The representation of fictitious spaces versus existing spaces evident in the paintings help the artist portray her interest towards the comparisons between mind and matter, and how these two important aspects work together.

Tell us more about the concept behind this exhibition.

Most of the work to be exhibited revolves around stages a person goes through when dealing with changes and loss of some sort, which in these paintings are being represented by different forms. At some stage, a person might revert to escapism and consciously (or subconsciously) ignore alterations being made to their surroundings, while at a later stage, letting go and allowing themselves to adapt accordingly might be the only option.

When you say that the Maltese are losing their sense of identity, what do you mean?

Some ways of life are being lost, which is a global problem. There was a rawness, a simplicity about Malta, which is being replaced by areas for commercial activity. A lot of public places are being turned into shopping complexes or commercial centres. I feel like this is killing our cultural identity.

Dreamer and Realist

How is this exhibition's work a departure from your past work?

Since at times I’m quite an introvert, I find painting to be a great way to express myself. While my latest work still explores the self, the paintings I (together with curator Sabrina Calleja Jackson) have chosen for Vernacular are also concerned with changes going on around us.

How long have you been painting?

For as long as I can remember. I've always loved to paint, though I started my studies in fine art in 2001 and left my job in 2011 to focus on painting full-time. 

Do you paint every day?

Sometimes it's hard. Especially when the sun's not out. I don't believe in sitting around waiting to feel inspired though... I have a lot to paint about. I tend to analyse a lot - to the point where it gets tiring! In Maltese we say infettaq - but then this is probably typical of someone who in constantly searching and asking.

Traditional Struggles

In the works you present for this exhibition, there's always a place in the background and a slightly blurred figure or a face in the foreground.

Yes, some backgrounds are a reflection of the alteration taking place over the simplicity that once was, while other distorted elements represent the shedding of ideals and values (which is not necessarily good or bad). 

Exhibition details

Date Thursday 10th May 2018 – 27th May 2018

Opening hours Monday to Friday from 8:30am- 7pm, Saturdays from 8:30am-1:30pm

Venue Malta Society of Arts, Palazzo de La Salle, 219, Republic Street, Valletta


Lisa Borain
Written by
Lisa Borain
Lisa is a copywriter/editor with an adventurous interest and penchant for all things Malta.

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