Exerpt from ARTnews, New York, February 1998 by Jonathan Turner
Maree Azzopardi is a photographer who damages her imagery. Applying paint, goldleaf and charcoal, Azzopardi crumples her photographs to create networks of veins and creases which crisscross her fragmented portraits. She coats her works with layers of honey-coloured varnishes, which she then sands down to increase the matt effect, rephotographing the manipulated results. Her compositions are oblique, and the subject is often cropped by the frame itself. She seems to delve under the skin of her figures.
Much of Azzopardi’s work is closely aligned to religious imagery – crucifixes, fish, poses reminiscent of Mantegna’s Dead Christ, the colours of Caravaggio. “I was born on a small farm,” says Azzopardi,”And my whole childhood was obsessed with watching things being born and watching things rot, and having a house full of plastic Last Suppers and glow-in-the-dark Virgin Marys.”
Her third solos show at Gallery Savah in Sydney is dedicated to her Fishworks, which the artist describes as “large format photos of Madonnas, seafood, naked women and scaly fish, and a man with a loudspeaker in a small fishing boat, going around the island of Gozo saying the rosary.” These sensual images were mostly taken in the fishing villages of Malta and in the harbour of Gallipoli in southern Italy.
“I like working from mistakes,” says Azzopardi. “I like playing with the outcome. I think my work reminds people of old family photographs. It puts people in touch with another reality and dimension, a reference not so much to death, but to memories which might not necessarily be their own.
ARTnews, New York