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Art Discussion Group - Malta


ANIMA - Janet Fenech and Mila Christova

The work of Janet Fenech and Mila Christova is a personal, expressionist language flowing with emotion and sentiment about the journey of life, the former focusing on the end with inevitable death, the latter on its beginning: birth and childhood. Their expression is quite mature for their age, deep-felt, soul searching with hardly any self-pity shown or allowed. It must have been quite difficult to face what they saw in the mirror but above all it was a therapeutic exercise with a gradual healing process that helped growth and the assertion of self. Both tried a variety of media and technique and therefore later on in their artistic career can choose what they feel is most suitable and related to mood and character. They supported each other in technical and psychological problems and so grew together in friendship and ability.

The exhibition is quite exciting with silver amulets in lost-wax process or cast in rubber mould, ceramics, photography, print, graphics and costumes on mannequin or skeleton to underline life’s frivolity. Vittorio De Sica maintains that communication is an act of love: liberty is sincerity; love is passion. This exhibition lacks neither liberty nor love.

‘The Limbo Trail’ an installation by Janet must have evolved in time and space. It is the result of experience, memory, consolidation, assimilation and interpretation. Highly involved, Janet expresses, after long reflection about her birth and childhood, her journeying abroad and the repeated story by her grandfather of the ‘Limbo Trail’ that has always been a mystery to her, even today. 

Wooden rails lead the visitor into the story that ends with a large luggage she inherited from her grandfather and a sentimental and romantic film about her childhood she edited and pieced together with great love and patience. This film alone is a guarantee for the certificate she will surely acquire. It is about the train journey of life. We sit at the window and watch the scene changing as our thought race through our mind infinitely. There is no return. The train ticket is only one way and there it ends. How true it is of life.

Janet has other mature works all introspective about her life: ‘Internal Reflection’ perhaps her best - fusing painting and photography; ‘Embarkation’ a self-portrait on her journey towards the future, quite complex and in varied media and ‘Mutability’ (Dream & Reality Two) an evolved work in red, gold and black that must be the last in a series of works on possibilities on a theme: herself and the journey. 

‘Metropolitanize’ is a result of Janet’s travel to and from College with cranes that dominate the dockyard sky like giant giraffes or dinosaurs, a beautiful narrative in colour from primordial times to the present.

‘Horror Vacqui’ by Mila is a formidable work. Her greatest fear was how to fill in such a large space on canvas by the subject she chose to interpret: eating disorders. The protagonist in the image might be auto-biographical. 

An emaciated female figure with rib cage showing is like the Classical Venus of Milo used not for its beauty but to suggest scorn and revulsion as the fluid figure is sucked helplessly into the desert sand. The sand dunes in the middle distance though abstract, form two female figures lying face down in ‘contrapposto’ under an ominous sky, morose and sad. 

A bare dying tree casts a shadow not of its twisted branches clawing the sky in pathetic fallacy with the protagonist but of a fork, a clear reference to anorexia nervosa. Such condition dictates the yearning in the afflicted of occupying as little space as possible in the landscape, in time. The surreal atmosphere and mood that this painting suggests is far beyond the age of the performer.

Two other works by Mila show different facets of her nature: ‘Os Acquae’ or ‘Watery Bones’ demonstrates a gentle and delicate touch in a rare and difficult technique while ‘Lavinia’ shows a branched gnarled tree trunk that emanates roughness and dynamic forces in space. ‘Luna’ is welded metal in a graphic, simple and minimalistic language.


15. 04. 2013