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Maltese iconic imagery turned into fantastical art

MeliTENSION consists of 10 pop-surreal digital paintings by Ramon Azzopardi Fiott accompanied by performance: “The Patriot Act II”, a collaboration with burlesque star Undine LeVerve. The paintings depict fantastical creatures inspired by icons of Maltese identity, set against local backdrops. Each telling a different story, the collection is diverse yet cohesive. They are strange, colourful and whimsical, much like the artist. The works capture a sense of nostalgia and a curiosity for what could be, within the themes of social identity and heritage loss.

Gremxuluzzu by by Ramon Azzopardi Fiott

The Patriot Act II is a revisited piece inspired by LeVerve’s original, after which it’s named. The performer embodies Melita, the spirit of the island in a tongue in cheek burlesque routine that addresses the country’s aesthetic decline with the rise of concrete towers.

All together this exhibition is an invitation for the viewers to reconnect with their inner daydreamer and see the rock through a, perhaps, different lens. The show presents a holistic fantasy of a dreamlike Malta where the monsters are a little less scary.

Audiences are also invited to join them for one of the 6-minute acts by Malta’s very own Burlesque performer – Undine LaVerve, “the Sin-Sational Siren of the Mediterranean ”!Book your tickets here for any of the below dates –

* Saturday 12th, 19th and 26th February 2022. Choose from any of the available time slots: 2:00PM, 2:30PM and 3:00PM.

In his blog he writes:

MeliTESION is the final nail in the coffin of my old life.

Not a necessarily grim statement, but an understandable interpretation. I have spent the last few years putting my life back together after the death of my mother. I dedicated my debut exhibition “Epokaliss” to her and opened it on the night of the first anniversary of her death. It was a dark, introspective collection – nothing like the new one.

Id-Di & d-Do 2 by Ramon Azzopardi Fiott

MeliTENSION has been long in coming. My fascination with melitensia is life-long, which resulted in me turning in a fish-bus fusion drawing for a 6th form assignment. This concept is the first echo of what turned out to be a decade long journey, moulded by circumstance, perseverance and my synesthesia.

The fish-bus grew into a renaissance dolphin-bus, and this one concept turned into an ambitious surreal series of benevolent beasts representing our island’s identity called “Ikona”. I collaborated with local artist Eric Attard, we sketched and fleshed out beautiful concepts which were sadly abandoned for years. Since then, Eric and I split up, my mother died, I move and life went on.

Now, I’m finally in a much better place. This is not to say I’m over my grief – I don’t think any of us really “get over grief”. I’ve just rebuilt myself in such a manner to withstand the loss better. Part of this process has been tying up all the loose ends from before, to give myself a new slate and lease on life. 5 of the original series made it to MeliTension. A couple are inspired by Ikona’s concepts and the rest are simply new additions to the fantasy.

I hope my creatures charm you as much as they do me. I hope they encourage you to really take in what we have left of our heritage around us, living and thriving outside a museum display. And If you are Maltese, by any definition, I hope you can see part of yourself in them. They are a tribute to our culture and a plea to not lose ourselves in the name of supposed progress."

Ramon is a passionate, Maltese bricoleur and in his illustrations, he reflects this very common, perhaps innerly ingrained trait found in the locals and best manifested in their indigenous expression. This exhibition confirms, and in no small way contributributes, to Katherine Rowntree’s observation in her essay The Spirits Are Cosmopolitan Too: Contemporary Shamanism in Malta (2017), that “Maltese people have always been bricoleurs and the construction of Malteseness a perpetual work in progress.” - Prof. Vince Briffa

Ramon Azzopardi Fiott

Ramon Azzopardi Fiott (b. 1994), is a Maltese synesthetic Pop-Surrealist whose works share his vivid internal world with the viewer. He’s been drawing since he could pick up a pencil and grew up to graduate in Digital Arts with a BFA (Hons). His debut solo exhibition “Epokaliss” (2017) was dedicated to his late mother and opened on the anniversary of her death. Since then, he’s been pursuing his journey as a fine artist whilst building his artistic enterprise, offering graphic design, collaborating with artists & NGOs and most recently taking part in the group show “Malta: Un Punto De Encuentro” (2021). Fiott’s work reflects his life in Malta, an island nation steeped in history, with dramatic architecture, suffering a reckless loss of national heritage. His paintings show his love and admiration for Melitensia and his pain at witnessing it fade away.

Visit his site:

Undine LeVerve

Undine LaVerve, “the Sin-Sational Siren of the Mediterranean ” is Malta’s very own Burlesque performer, she has travelled far and wide with her acts representing Malta. Undine is Malra’s Burlesque pioneer– starting the Burlesque movement in Malta in 2011. Undine LaVerve is a producer, event organizer, and headmistress of BAM – Burlesque Academy Malta. Undine’s style is classical Burlesque with a sensual and often alternative twist, she brings originality, artistic stage presence, fierce dance moves and a spark to stages across the world.

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