Malta Contemporary Art | Valletta landscape © iStock/Anton Zelenov
Malta certainly isn’t short on art history. The archipelago’s noteworthy gems range from intricate Roman mosaics to architectural heavyweights such as the Baroque St John’s Co-Cathedral and elaborate Grandmaster’s Palace. But while Valletta is scattered with early 20th century works by the legendary Maltese sculptor Antonio Sciortino, it’s not just a historic aesthetic that polishes the island up as a cultural destination. Dig a little deeper to discover Malta’s thriving contemporary art scene across a strong hand of world-class galleries. From Lily Agius Gallery’s inspired line-up of local and international talent to the edgy curations of Malta Contemporary Art, allow us to introduce you to the island’s most interesting creative enclaves.
Spazju Kreattiv at St James Cavalier
Consistently thought-provoking, cutting-edge and challenging exhibitions have established Spazju Kreattiv in the 16th-century fortified St James Cavalier as a leading contemporary art space in Valletta. With an innovative programme that lurches giddily from film and performance to photography and visual arts, there’s always something interesting to see here. The spotlight is aimed at local artists, whose exhibitions are interspersed with international shows and film screenings, creating a consistently inspiring programme.
Lily Agius Gallery
London-born gallerist Lily Agius moved to Malta in 2001 and set up a sleek art space in Sliema a decade later. Her sharp eye for rising talent and broad international perspective has seen Lily Agius Gallery become crucial to Malta’s positioning in the international art arena. The gallery is committed to raising the profile of Maltese-born artists – something clearly evident in its roll call of homegrown talent. Their paintings, sculptures and installations sit amidst work from rising international artists. Lily is also the founder of Artpaper, Malta’s first art and design publication promoting local and international creatives.
Malta Contemporary Art
A stalwart in Malta’s creative community for the past decade, Valletta-based Malta Contemporary Art lassos rising talent from across the globe into edgy exhibitions within its cool, muted walls. Previous shows include works from the likes of Turner Prize nominee Spartacus Chetwynd, French photographer Cyprien Gaillard, and London-based sculptor Jess Flood-Paddock. Owned and run by British artist Mark Mangion, Malta Contemporary Art is a space that certainly holds its own among its trailblazing international peers.
Christine X Art Gallery
A quick turnover ensures the paintings and photography lining the walls of Christine X Art Gallery on bustling Tigne Street in Sliema are consistently fresh and interesting. This small commercial gallery, established in 2004 by artist Christine X herself, is where to go to procure a piece of contemporary Maltese art. While the style of the work on display varies, vivid colour and expressionism are the dominant trends.
A chic, pared-back space in the sleepy village of Iklin, SO Galerie is a relative newcomer to Malta’s healthy portfolio of contemporary art galleries. With a slow rotation of thought-provoking, skillfully curated exhibitions by local and international artists, this is a commercial gallery that rides the very crest of the contemporary art wave in a lovely, laid-back setting. Drop in for occasional art classes with Maltese artist Liliana Fleri Soler.