All Black & White images are all Ltd Ed 5, 2001 Handprinted Black & white photo on fibre based paper, 51 x41cm unless stated otherwise
Exert from Celeste Catalogue piece by Jonathan Turner
The recent mixed media photographs by Maree Azzopardi are dramatic portraits bathed in light. In her Celeste series, blonde nude is shown in intimate poses in the rooms of an unspecified Mediterranean palace. A lazy atmosphere pervades. The model bathes in a large metal pail, sits on a chair and slowly descends a staircase. In some works, a staged still-life of bread, enamel plates, a wine bottle and fruit is set up on the patterened tiles of the floor. There is the idea of physical sustenance and satisfaction, as well as emotional balance. In other images, the legs of the nude intrude on the scenery, cut off by the frame, so that they too become part of the ephemeral still-life. In her photography, the artist captures stillness and vitality, surrealism and symbolism.
Azzopardi’s Celeste series was completed over a series of months on the island of Gozo in Malta. She has inserted the timeless nude figure into a typical Maltese palace, complete with painted tiles, a marble and wrought-iron staircase and scrubbed woodwork. The colours are muted- dull green, earthy brown and celestial blue. The photographs are imbued with Carravaggesque light. The notion that Carravaggio is a direct source of inspiration is hardly surprising, given that he spent several months working in Malta in 1608, when he painted his masterpieces, Saint Jerome and The Execution of John the Baptist, now hanging in St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta………..
….Celeste also includes a series of smaller black and white photographs of votive figures, details of ecclesiastical sculpture and church architecture. Ecstatic Virgins and chubby cherubs emerge from the shadows. Azzopardi’s personal vision, in which the spiritual is closely linked with the carnal, is part of a long tradition. She makes allisions to the tale of the loaves and fishes, to the concept of daily bread. Mediterranean, plus a subtle dose of irony…….