An exception in itself | Josianne Bonello

Artist Josianne Bonello speaks to TEODOR RELJIC about her participation in the collective exhibition Perception: Postscripts, which serves as a follow-up showcase to the Malta Society of Arts’ AMuSE (Artistic Multi-Sensorial Experiences) exhibition

The kinetic sculpture ‘Nuts and Bolts’ is Josianne Bonello’s contribution to Perception: Postscripts, currently on display at the Malta Society of Arts
The kinetic sculpture ‘Nuts and Bolts’ is Josianne Bonello’s contribution to Perception: Postscripts, currently on display at the Malta Society of Arts

Could you tell us a little bit about your artistic training, background and chief influences, and how they’ve led you to create the work that now forms part of the ‘Perceptions’ exhibition?

A three-year course in graphic design with a first-year foundation taught me a lot. I got in touch with different materials such as wood and stone carving, clay modeling and model making. Following up on that, an ongoing work experience in museums and heritage sites and exhibitions helps me to absorb art in many different ways. My exhibit for Perceptions, ‘nuts and bolts’, evolved from a thought of an everyday situation. Tackling problems, keeping in mind practical and essential things to be able to move forward. The outcome resulted in an amusing piece: a kinetic sculpture forming shapes with colored tubes.

Perception is a vast subject to cover. How did you choose to tackle it visually, without falling into either vagueness of over-generalisation?

Perception is an exception in itself. What I perceive today I might not perceive tomorrow. Tackling it visually helps me to focus on an issue and transform it from abstract to something tangible in a pleasing way.

How does it feel to form part of an exhibition that bills itself as an ‘artistic sequel’ to its predecessor (AMuSE)? Was it stimulating to build on the foundations established by that previous showcase?

Being part of this exhibition is like being part of evolving ideas to communicate in visual arts. I did find it stimulating because the curator’s introduction to this exhibition pushes you forward in thinking in a different approach to art, as we say ‘think out of the box’.

Josianne Bonello
Josianne Bonello

In your view, what is the most crucial contribution that the Malta Society of Arts continues to make?

Teaching is its most crucial contribution. However, the Malta Society of Arts is also a large-scale showcase in a beautiful historical building, a great space for local artists to enjoy exposure. Ongoing  exhibitions, especially of contemporary art, are also crucial. The annual members’ exhibition is an opportunity to both the members and the society. In my opinion, it is important that this is curated, as it currently is, for a well-balanced show to encourage all kinds of artists to participate. The more members there are, the more both the society and Maltese culture at large benefit.

What do you make of the visual arts scene in Malta? What would you change about it?

Art is personal: you either like it or you do not. Having said that, the visual arts scene reflects the current living world. In Malta, art is evolving using various new media, especially digital arts and artificial intelligence, both of which are being used as an interesting tool. In general, I see that there is a tendency to follow common trends. I would like to see a shift in the over-arching attitude, where artists become their own critics, discovering themselves in their own art, and not others.

What’s next for you?

Art is like an ongoing process. It grows with me. I enjoy experimenting in different mediums. My aim is to express beyond what my eyes can see.

Perception: Postscripts will remain on display at the Malta Society of Arts, Palazzo de la Salle, Republic Street, Valletta until August 31