From the devout Mannerist and Baroque painters who flourished under the rule of the Knights of St John, to the acclaimed sculptor Antonio Sciortino, there’s a long history of art in Malta. However, a new generation of contemporary Maltese artists and gallerists has come to prominence in recent years, dragging art in Malta out of the museum and into the white cube, workshop and pop up space. Contained within a staunchly global outlook and boundary-pushing approach, is the belief that Malta is capable of producing work that can compete on the international stage. From galleries like the Tempra Museum with its international art historical purview, and the influential Spazju Kreattiv at St James Cavalier, to smaller spaces like Studio 104 and Christine X, who are working hard to nourish new artists, we select the best places to see contemporary art in Malta.
With four floors containing work by over 250 artists spanning the gamut of 20th and 21st-century movements, the Tempra Museum in Mgarr is arguably the home of contemporary art in Malta. The Tempra Academy, which actually had its first edition in London back in 1975, also stages many cultural events during the year, ensuring that their remit goes beyond cataloguing historical movements to stimulating the ideas to power new ones.
Gallerist Lily Agius was born and raised in London, but moved to Malta in 2001. Her broad international perspective has seen her gallery become a crucial node in the Maltese – international art dialogue. While the gallery is committed to raising the profile of Maltese-born artists – something clearly evident in its roll call of homegrown talent – their work sits amidst work from rising international artists, ensuring the conversation flows both ways.
If you want to purchase a piece of contemporary Maltese art, the Christine X gallery in Sliema is a good starting point. This small commercial gallery was established in 2004 and shows work by both local and international artists. While the style of the artworks varies, colour and expressionism are the dominant trends.
This innovative space in Malta’s capital runs educational workshops as well as cutting edge exhibitions that feature audiovisual and installation work alongside wall-mounted pieces. The gallery champions local talent and has an engaging rotation of shows that hold their own among Malta’s leading galleries.
This historical building in Valletta has been home to the Spazju Kreattiv since 2000. This cultural hub, run by the Fondazzjoni Kreattività strives to stimulate the exchange of ideas, build cultural identity and – crucially – reach out to the community with a boundary-testing programme of exhibitions and projects. They also hold workshops, organize events such as the Valletta International Arts Festival and display a keen grasp of the cutting edge through their discussions at the intersection of art, film, technology and beyond.
Fairly new to the art scene in Malta, Valletta Contemporary commandeered a four-century-old warehouse to open its cutting-edge gallery in 2018. Drawing talent from across Malta and beyond, the project is helmed by established local artist Norbert Francis Attard. It has community at its heart, making for an engaging programme of local exhibitions and workshops.
Representing all that’s exciting about Malta’s contemporary art landscape, Blitz in Valletta hosts multimedia exhibitions by contemporary artists in provocative, engaging shows. From film to photography and sculpture, there’s always something inspiring to see. The unassuming gallery, tucked away in a townhouse, counts Royal College of Arts and Central Saint Martins in London among its partners.