When art meets sumptuous words...
From the pen of ANDRÉ CARBONARO


André Carbonaro is a 1974 product. Valletta born and bred, writing and reading have always been an integral part of him. Author of Tieqa - a collection of poems in Maltese published earlier this year, he has a number of projects in the offing, including “The Valletta I love – A tale of one City” and a historical novel based on the events of the great siege intermingled with a love story.


An art aficionado, André stumbled in New Life Bar’s Kamra ta’Fuq quite by coincidence and being the writer he is, he decided to write about what he saw, and lo behold, his writings were positively greeted by those who read them. His attention to detail intermingled with a humoristic touch manage to keep the reader hooked and waiting for more.


Larger than life you never know what André’s next target will be… so stay tuned.

Thoughts on 'In the name of the Mother... and of the Daughter...'

I stumble up the fifteen or so steps that lead to Kamra ta’ Fuq. The anticipation for this exhibition has been gradually building up for the past weeks now, and to be honest, I negotiated my way up with a clear picture of what to expect. Only, the impressions I had preset in my mind and the manifestation that Nik Keter was presenting were two totally different worlds, maybe parallel in thought but different in expression, boldness, and arrangement.

Subconsciously I find myself embarking on a journey through a mystical umbilical cord floating through the strengths, the insecurities, the dreams, and the credo that the young artist is so boldly presenting. This is a perfect description of a full circle that keeps generating itself, engendering energy from energy and transforming it into a sublime depiction of love, protection, and security.


Nik delves into her inner self, opening up through a medium that helps her express herself in a way that she would not do conventionally. She gives us the mother, not just her mother, but a creator of life, more than a physical being, she portrays a thought, a spiritual bubble, into which we retract to whenever we feel threatened, scared or alone. The mother Keter gives us is the foundation of life itself, a crude, yet impeccably detailed mutation of mother earth, the sacred and the pagan embraced in an intimate dance. The details are so intense that I can almost imagine roots growing from the tiled floor of Kamra ta’ Fuq, to embrace the paintings, the women and the fruit and the other creatures, mystical and real that are so boldly represented. You can feel the connection between one canvas and another.  It is like they are evolving, intermingling through a passageway that leads to total unity between the creator and the created. The boldness and the size of the paintings are a clear message that the artist wants the whole world to know what her feelings are, she wants us to be a part of this universe.


I find myself unknowingly thinking of the women in my life, those who I love, those I loved, those who love me unconditionally and those that are no more. Undoubtedly this exhibition will trigger different emotions in every person that visits.

This is the beginning of a long journey for Nik, a journey through life that will take her places, some of which she will like and some others that will take her out of her comfort zone and realize that life is not an utopia. She has come of age, and the future holds great plans for her, I know that she will fulfil herself, I don’t know exactly how but one thing is for sure, she will never go with the flow.


Thoughts on FUGA MODUS


"Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting Joyce Camilleri and her Fuga Modus exhibition at Kamra ta' Fuq in Mqabba. These are my thoughts about it ......

At one point in our lives we have all found ourselves in a place, where either because a certain situation dictated the need, or simply because we were overwhelmed, we had to switch off, reboot, start afresh, wait for a storm to pass, reflect and weather it out. Hoping for a better future once the ball gets rolling again. It happens more often than we realize, sometimes a few minutes are enough, sometimes it is not so simple.

Confined to camp as most of us were a few months ago, literally forced to go into flight mode, Joyce Camilleri gives us a glimpse of how she saw the world through her striking eyes, when everything seemed doomed and numb. Her works are statements of hope, showing the light at the end of an obscure and dark tunnel. With her unique talent she has managed to extract and emit positivity from colours that we normally associate with gloom. Although seemingly sombre at first glance, her paintings are alive, inviting you to go through the journey with them, exploring the tumultuous season hand in hand, knowing that we will be basking in sunshine soon enough.

Though foreboding at first, each painting leads to a clearing, offering us space, and time to think. The powerful strokes of Joyce’s paintbrushes are met by luscious material, meaning to tell that no matter what blow we are dealt with, it is never too hard, and that no matter what, we will stand up again. This exhibition makes us reflect on whether it is time for us to take a time out, switch off, go in FUGA MODUS to come back again, stronger, better and full of life. Echoing Ernest Hemingway - The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. And believe me, Joyce Camilleri has come out strong."


Thoughts on HER

Following a visit to the photography exhibition HER, by Clint Scerri Harkins, held at il-Kamra ta' Fuq, in Mqabba

HER 8_edited.jpg

A lens, and Clint....... the end product is something that one would never have dreamt possible. After you visit this exhibition you will never look at women in the same way. Clint Scerri Harkins had the audacity to show women in a way that few have before. Highlighting their strength, humanizing their vulnerability, exposing their beauty and lauding their perfect imperfections. His style, more than being unique is raw with a certain sophistication, such that one cannot acquire but comes a result of a fine eye, a never-ending imagination, and hours upon hours of patience. Clint not only shows mastery in his trade but has confirmed that he is a trend setter. His photos are not mere portraits but cult statements. They pierce your soul, boil your blood, and let your imagination free, shaking the gray matter in your head and amalgamating the surreal and the factual. I can guarantee that you will leave kamra ta’ fuq but the kamra ta’ fuq exhibition will not leave you. Clint will rubber stamp you with something that you never expected. The photography on show is a rare example of how black and whites can expose you to a million colours, a million shades, an infinite number of angles and perspectives. Scerri Harkins will go a long way…. We are lucky to have walked part of his journey with him and HER.


Thoughts on GATHERINGS


Illum iltqajt mal-hbieb Ta'Debbie. Klikkek, hbieb, u xi tnejn ta'qattaghni. Min jizzegleg, min kurjuz u min misthi, min jikxef u min jistahba u jipprova jintilef fid-dellijiet tal-isqaqien li l-pinzell u l-immaginazzjoni tal- habiba taghna holqu biex johduna dawra mal-kurriduri tal-immaginazzjoni li miz-zebgha holqot. Irwieh hajjin u ghatxana li jghidulna l-istorja taghhom, anke jekk din l-istorja tkun differenti min dak li pingejna ahna f'mohhna. Mit-tila tohrog tqanqila li fuqha jista jinkiteb mitt vers, u meta jinzel is-siparju u l-uniku sors ta'dawl fil-kamra ikun dak il-fanal b'dija safranija fil-kantuniera ta' triq San Bazilju, nisthajjel lil dawk il-figuri jharsu lejn xulxin jitbissmu u jghidu fuqna, ahna li morna hemm niccassaw lejhom bit-tazza tal-whisky f'idejna u sigarrett imdendel ma xoftejna minghalina nifmu. U naf li ghada se jtuna stamp' ohra, anglu iehor, se jtuna hjiel gdid halli jzommuna fuq ponot subghajna bit-tama li forsi xi darba nkunu nafu ezatt x'ghaddej mill-imtiehen ta' mohhom.... Suppost Debbie biss taf... imma mhux certa lanqas hi.

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie’s friends. One or two tough guys, groupies, and the usual cliques, only they had nothing usual about them. I met those with the kinky demeanour, the curious ones, and the wall flowers, the shy ones, and the outgoing souls. I met the exhibitionists and the voyeurs, and those who wanted to dissolve in the shadows that the fine strokes of Debbie’s brush created for them to take us on a roller coaster ride through the alleys and cul-de-sacs of her paint infused world. I saw living souls, eager to recount their story, even if their tale is totally different from what we had envisaged. These canvases evoke emotions that makes my left hand itch with wanting to write a thousand and one words, and when I’m alone in my head feeding on the pale yellow light emanating from the ancient lamp in Saint Basil Street, I convince myself that the characters that Debbie created are looking back at me giggling and gossiping and basking on the knowledge that they are the centre of attention and on the fact that no one will ever know what they are really thinking. Even mocking us for trying to look profound with our whiskies in hand and a dangling Marlboro. What tickles my imagination is the fact that I know that tomorrow they will give us another glimpse of what they have to offer, another angle of life on the canvas. They will keep us on edge, guessing and wanting to know more, trying to fathom what the windmills of their mind will offer us. I guess only Debbie knows all the answers but probably she has her doubts and questions too.


Thoughts on

2 Dari mhux f'dari.jpg

Konna ilna biex naghmluha. Li niltaqghu. Iltqajna go kamra f'rahal ghall-kwiet. Rahal, li f'dawn iz-zminijiet li flimkien qed nghixu taht is-shaba pandemika, il-hemda tieghu tinkiser b'xi tokk tal-qniepen mistrieha fil-kampnar u bil-hoss tal-magna diesel tal-vann ta' Marcell.

Tlajna fil-kamra ta'fuq kollha kemm ahna. Konna b'kollox tlett mija u sebghin. Nisa w irgiel, twal u qosra, hoxnin u rqaq, helwin, koroh,Nazzjonalisti u Laburisti, u anke xi wiehed jew tnejn tal-Olternattiva iddesffsu ukoll. Kaccaturi,ta'kontra l-kacca, u mal Maltin, Afrikani, u xi Svediza mnemmxa. Ohrog l-ghageb qaghdna kollha,u hadd ma ggieled. Tiskanta u titnixxef li min tlett mija u sebghin ruh hadd ma gerger. Kulhadd qaghad qiesu baqqa... kif poggiena Pawlu. U domna hemm mhux hazin sa anke gew hafna nies jiccassaw lejna u hemm min riedna fis-salott tieghu. U ghalkemm domna hadd ma niten.

Ma kontx naf lil kulhadd,Lanqas lil ta' hdejja stess, imma drajna lil xulxin malajr. Hallejna l-marka taghna fuq xulxin bhal timbru, jew kif inhu moda issa tattoo u naf cert li kif Pawlu jiddeciedi li ninzlu biex warajna jitilghu in-nies ta' Debbie ha nhossu mhux ftit in-nuqqas ta'xulxin. Pero fiducjuz li bhal mal-insara jzuru l-qabar ta' Kristu, u l-Musulmani Mecca, ahna xorta ser nibqghu inzuru l-kamra li fiha konna b'kollox tlett mija u sebghin ruh, u lil dak ir-rahal kwiet, u l-qniepen nergghu nisimghuhom, izda flok il-hoss tal-magna diesel tal-vann ta Marcell nibdew nisimghu il-hoss tat-tazzi jhabbtu flimkien u l-ilhna taghna nitkellmu ma xulxin... u ma kull min irid ikellimna.... bejn gidma u ohra mill-hobza ta' Antoine Farrugia


Thoughts on GOLGOTHA


For decades, the first things that sprung to mind on the very few occasions the village of Mqabba was mentioned in some conversation, were quarries, dust and fireworks, that is when we were not talking about sporadic shootings and my cousin’s wedding mass which, if memory serves me well, I spent the whole duration of smoking on the parvis of St. Mary’s church admiring the architecture around me. Tucked away behind the tunnel this little village has a soul of its own with secrets that until recently have been closely guarded by the residents and by those who have been artistically adopted by the thriving community of Bohemians that reside, live and exhibit there.

As luck would have it, and in the search of something different from the usual Hugo’s terrace, with a sudden whim and probably boredom, I drove to Mqabba on a Friday night to have a drink in one of the clubs there, I was acquainted to one of the bar owners there so I was hopeful that the company would not be too bad. After a few rounds of drinks, I was asked to join a table outside, and the warm night made this offer more inviting. I expected the conversation to revolve around feasts and fireworks but to my surprise I was soon discussing art and literature with a group of people who now I know have incredible artistic abilities. To say the least, I was intrigued, to say it all, I was hooked. It was the beginning of a special relationship with this village, and I started to visit regularly, mingle, and have a drink or two, while discussing relevant issues and gathering ideas for my writing. That is until the pandemic took us all back to square one.


If anyone thought that the world would now stand still, it surely was not this group of artists. With all the watering holes closed due to restrictions, they used their energy and imagination to create a space that would be the showcase of their work and of those who wanted to use it. Il-Kamra ta’ Fuq as it is aptly called, since it is situated in the upstairs room of the legendary New Life Bar has given birth and fostered a number of exhibitions that have impressed, inspired and encouraged.

Mark Mallia how do you describe such a character? To those who don’t know him he might appear angry, constantly fighting his demons and irreverent but when you dig deeper a delicate soul emerges, an artist that can only be understood through his work. Certainly not run of the mill, his paintings and creations scream in your face. Hurt, passion and love anger and betrayal intermingle through the genius of his media so that the end result is something that the artistic scene on this island has been left bereft of for decades. He has the audacity to expose his inner self in a way that only he can get away with. His partnership with Etienne Farrell causes a reaction of emotions bringing out the best of each other albeit with different tools. Etienne Farrell, what can I say, I was always in awe of this slightly strange girl, I remember her distinctly on cloud nine drawing on the chipped Formica desks in our prison like sixth form class, while the lecturer ranted about Antony and Cleopatra. She has certainly come a long way since then in both style and demeanor and I am sure she has a lot more to offer. Chapeau. Very few people can do what Antoine Farrugia can, that is, transforming a slab of rough globigerina limestone or any other stone into something so intrinsic, original, eclectic, fragile and yet bold and imposing. I dare say that Antoine, (besides being an excellent barman) is one of the most underrated sculptors on the island who can only become better and whose work should surely stand toe to toe with other contemporary works. In a few words, these artists have incredible talent, an art which they have offered to us to enjoy and explore in a village that has so much potential. Most of all they are a humble bunch, encouraging all those who want to further their talent. As a matter of fact, I am looking forward to an exhibition that will be open in mid-April by Pawlu Mizzi courtesy of il-Kamra ta’ Fuq. This pandemic related digital portraiture exhibit will be a feast to the eyes and will titillate the imagination of all those who visit. Pawlu thinks outside the box and every creation of his is a joy. I am no art critic, but I appreciate originality and am keen to explore new pastures. Observing these works has helped in no small measure to inspire me whenever I put pen to paper and pour my thoughts. Keep going strong my friends and good luck for your future endeavors. Looking forward to discussing these sitting on a tiny stool with a cold beer in my hands.


Bilfors titbikkem, tarah magħluq ,il-ħanut tal-bieb ċelesti,

li Gejtan kien jiftah min sbieħ filgħodu m’hemmx Ħdud u festi.

bilfors titbikkem, tarah magħluq, il-ħanut ċkejken tal-Imqabba,

li barra ftira, ħobża w te, kien ifur kollu imħabba.

Taqbiżlek demgħa bla ma trid, tara katnazz mal-bieb tal-ħadid,

u tiftakar fi żmien li flimkien qattajna, ma flixkun birra jew tazza nbid.

u f’moħħi qed jiġu l-iskultur , il-miġnun l-iehor dak il-pittur,

u min pulit u min bit-trab, ma jimpurtax għax kollha sħab.

imma hekk riedu, illi jagħlquh, bħal qiesu il-virus minn hemm xerrduh,

u hekk min għandu jibqa’ jiffanga, u min m’għandux jibqa’ bil-ġuh.

u jien jittama li jisbaħ jum sbejjaħ meta ż-żikk ta’ virus jgħidu li mar,

u l-Antoine nar’ jiftaħ dak l-imbierek ta’ New Life Bar !

20201203_174235 (1).jpg