Skip to content


Today Mark has kept his word and opened an intimate space in the heart of Valletta. We catch up with this human dynamo

Anthea Hamilton & Nicholas Byrne, LOVE (Black Lips), 2016, MCA

As an artist, curator and director of Malta Contemporary Art (MCA), Mark Mangion has some memorable exhibitions under his belt and has kept himself busy whilst having been away from the island since 2010. He also has an equal amount of resilience and vision for Malta that has warranted his return here with a new gallery space, despite setbacks. MCA was founded in 2008, with a gallery and artist studio workspace in a warehouse in Marsa – an innovative location for its time – and the brief opening of the gallery at the upper gallery of St James Cavalier in Valletta.

Salvatore Arancio, Pele & Puna, 2013, MCA

What have you been up to since you left Malta?

After leaving Malta in 1994, I lived in various places – including New York City, London and Paris. I spent three years back in Valletta – from 2007 to 2010 – and since then have been very active with my own artwork, as well as a curatorial project entitled Parallel Borders. I have now set up base in London. I’ve also become a father, twice over – an overwhelming experience, although at the expense of many lost career opportunities. For the last three years, although I have continued exhibiting, I’ve slowed down my artistic production to focus on my daughters and some other projects, as well as having the time and distance to really consider and re-think the next phase of my work. Now that I’m leading a less frenetic and nomadic life, my plan is to set up a new studio in the UK and one in Gozo – where I spend most of my summers – which will, I hope enable me to get back into producing more work.

How would you say your collecting of art has developed over recent years?

I and my wife Emma, who works in fashion, have started to develop our own contemporary art collection, including works by artists Cyprien Gaillard, Haris Epaminonda, Richard Wentworth, Ron Nagle and many others, and we very much hope to continue expanding it and including more Maltese artists, with time. We have also invested heavily in the artists that we exhibit at MCA.

Why this space?

MCA was founded in Malta as a geographically specific project, so a return to Valletta was always part of the plan. I decided to re-open in 2017 with a small and intimate space in the heart of the city, next to the newly refurbished Old Covered Market and the gallery was completed within four months. I feel that the stark contrast of a clinical and neutral space against traces of the historic and bare Maltese stone works well.

How would you say Valletta has changed over the years?

Valletta has changed considerably since 2010 and although I’m not quite sure about the direction in which it is heading, I still relate very strongly to this city – its architecture and identity – and still feel that it is the cultural centre of Malta, although this is slowly expanding outwards to the whole Grand Harbour area and beyond.

Any hopes for Malta being a Capital of Culture this year?

Malta has certainly changed a lot in the last six years and I think culturally it is slightly more in tune with where it should be, but it still has a long way to go. I am, however, looking forward – as we should, since V18 will hopefully further stimulate more growth in the contemporary cultural field in terms of public and private funding, serious and responsible collecting, public engagement and appreciation and, vitally, a thriving and sustainable artistic scene that can make interesting and challenging work that is relevant in its approach and international in its reach.

Does MCA rely on financial support?

In 10 years, MCA has only received a total of €2,500 in public and arts funding, but it aims to continue presenting interesting and challenging exhibitions by Maltese and international artists while also carving out a market for these artists with serious collectors, some of whom are also based in Malta. I don’t believe in miracles, but hard work, dedication, a bit of luck and a supportive private and public infrastructure can go a long way towards developing the artistic scene in Malta into one that is more critical, relevant and professional, respected, collaborative and internationalised. I think that, while it would be a great opportunity if public funding increases, I also firmly believe that private funding needs to have a much greater role and responsibility towards culture – and I mean ground-breaking and challenging culture – that is not purely speculative, for profit or entertainment.

What is it like running a gallery in Malta?

Running a gallery is a very expensive and challenging operation. I have to say that, compared to other places, running one in Malta is extremely challenging compared to other places, simply because there isn’t the infrastructure for what we are doing, but we will continue to work hard to change this.

Any plans to expand in the future?

I hope to open an MCA in London in 2018/9 which will hopefully give us access to a much larger and critical public and collector base. We are also in the process of launching a new contemporary network in Malta in 2018, and hope to expand it internationally.

What is the main aim of the gallery?

Initially, MCA presented a programme of international artists in a series of exhibitions and projects, including Turner Prize-winner Simon Starling, Cyprien Gaillard and over a 100 other artists and curators. The gallery now represents emerging and mid-career artists who work in various media – from painting and sculpture to performance and film. We produce all our exhibitions and then try to sell the work while also trying to boost the career of our artists on an international level. We currently represent Andre Birk (US), Tobias Spichtig (Switzerland), Tom Van Malderen (Belgium/Malta), Franziska Von Stenglin (Germany) and Fenêtreproject (Malta) and are in the process of increasing our list of represented artists. Of course, being totally free and open to the public enables the local public to engage with contemporary art and an international programme of exhibitions.

What’s on?

Current Exhibition

Tobias Spichtig

Fridge & Mind, Berlin-based Swiss artist’s first solo show in Malta

19.1.2018 to 3.3.2018

Upcoming Exhibition

Tom Van Malderen

A Belgian architect, based in Malta. MCA presents his first solo show in Malta.

9.3.2018 – 21.4.2018

More Interviews