Young artist Rebecca Cassar’s exhibition titled Enlightenment consists of 19 works in various mediums on canvas, focusing on the use of colour, texture and 23.5 karat gold leaf, expressing the artist’s recent experience of turmoil and trepidation in her own life. The exhibition opens on Thursday 5 January and can be visited until the 26 January at the Malta Society of Arts’ (MSA) seat Palazzo de La Salle in Valletta.
The title is a reflection on the Age of Enlightenment, which brought about an era of rebirth and revolution in all aspects of humanity. For Cassar, the intrinsic scope of the exhibition is to display her own internal rebirth and growth. “The reason I am putting up this solo exhibition for the first time is that I felt a strong personal connection to a theme, one which focused on my own personal journey of growth amid a difficult period in my life. Painting for me became a form of escapism, and a way to celebrate life in the face of adversity,” she comments.
“In my mind, emotion is conveyed through colour, and I feel that ultimately colour, light and gold have shone through everything else,” she continues. “My colour palette is evocative of the world around me, so blues, greens and yellows feature heavily, sometimes embodying a particular memory or moment from the past year and a half.”
Cassar’s creative process includes periods of experimentation with different media and textures such as acrylic, modelling paste, sand, crackle paste, glue, iridescence and mostly 23.5k gold leaf. “This propensity for experimentation is probably what drew me so intensely to abstract art, as I feel it gives more room for discovery,” explains the artist. “While I was creating the works, some emotions were more aggressive than others, so the fast-drying paint allowed me to quickly express what I wanted to convey in each work. Against this backdrop of movement, I wanted to convey stillness and craftsmanship by using gold leaf and gilding techniques – paying tribute to more traditional methods of artistry.”
Expanding more on how her works come to life, Cassar relates that occasionally ideas for paintings force her to toss and turn at night until she is compelled to wake up to write down the idea and doodle it. Other times, she sketches on her iPad or sketchbook and hangs these drafts in her studio as a direction for a work. “I see some of my works very vividly in my mind, and I know exactly what they should look like, what colours to place where and how thick the modelling paste should be,” she divulges. “Normally these works start and finish on the same canvas and no preparatory work takes place. I have painted over some others around 20 times as they don’t feel quite right for some time. These tend to be the paintings I’m most proud of, despite the frustration. With time and many layers of paint, my brainchild is finally born.”
MSA’s President Arch. Adrian Mamo is proud that the Society is hosting such a vivid body of work. “Rebecca’s works are an explosion of emotions as expressed through colour that give the viewer the space to reflect upon what might have been the inspiration behind the strokes,” he says. “We look forward to having Rebecca’s works hang in our Art Galleries in the New Year.”
Enlightenment by Rebecca Cassar is on between the 5 and 26 January 2023 at the Art Galleries of the Malta Society of Arts, Palazzo de La Salle, Valletta. Entrance is free. For more details about the exhibition please visit www.artsmalta.org/events or www.facebook.com/maltasocietyofarts.