Maldwyn Charles

Mal is an honours graduate from Newport College of Art where he taught in Newport for many years acting as the Head of Creative Arts Faculty.  He visits the Cyprus College of Art twice yearly as a guest painter.  More recently he has acted as Artistic Director to a group of local artists and has exhibited extensively in group shows in South Wales as well as in Cyprus.  His most recent One Man shows were at the Globe Theatre, Hay on Wye, the Oriel Barker Gallery, and at Riverfront Art Centre, Newport.

Mal Charles picture

About his work

His work, in a word, is about 'How'. How we make images, how we make paintings, how they communicate and how, above all, they make aesthetic meaning.

The subject matter is art itself, but more specifically our visual understanding, how we think visually, how we make visual meaning and generate an aesthetic experience. To this extent, his work empathises with 'The New Aesthetics' and the principle of 'metastoicheios'.  His recent work has been concerned with 'how' different representative methods/styles (abstraction, distortion, realism, 3D, optical, super realism, cut through canvases, etc) can be used pluralistically, to increase the visual impact of art as well as amplify its aesthetic meaning.  Some works examine 'how' the art process effects product, as well as 'how' the product can change the visual meaning of the art process through self-reference.

Over the last two years the work has looked at 'how' optical processes can be linked to realism, producing what can best be described as a kind of 'Optical Realism'.

Metastoicheios: Works of art, define themselves, they are works of art regardless of whether an artist, or critic, or even a wider society say they are works of art, just like a tree is a tree, without anyone having to say so. This counters the 'Institutional Theory' of art that Conceptual Art is based upon.

Ideas behind some of his paintings:

The icon and the church are both simulacra - images that represent something else - in this case either God or the House of God.  Yet there have been different reactions to such simulacra, even amongst believers.

During a number of long visits working at the Cyprus College of Art, I was struck by the intense orthodox Christianity of the Cypriot population who venerated both the icon and church.  Yet I was also aware that the iconoclasts of the past, equally ardent believers, reacted differently to the icon, reviling the very idea of simulacra representing the divine.  They believed that "the divinity that breathes life into nature cannot be represented." 

In a series of paintings which I called "deity locators" I began to examine the two opposing ideas surrounding this controversy - omnipotence and locality.  I have caused Emba Church to adopt camouflage used on the Turkey-Cypriot "Green LIne" to hide itself from the iconoclasts critique.  In others I have inverted and distorted the laws of perspective to dislocate the image of the church from the perceptually real.  In other works, the Church is distorted to become a tunnel or a factory or just about anything but a church.  In terms of visual meaning, how far can an original image be changed and still retain the identity of the original?  How much of the real persists in the simulacra?

emba churchDeity Locator 2
Emba Church, Cyprus


His Studio

Mal Charles has his studio with several other local artists at the Old Workhouse, Abergavenny.  This is located just off Union Road East, not far from Nevill Hall Hospital.

The Old Workhouse, Hatherleigh Place, Union Road West, Abergavenny, NP7 7RL

Contact him via email at:


Mal's recent exhibition was entitled "Visual Enigmas" at Newport's Riverfront Art Centre where he had approximately 70 works ranging from paintings, drawings and illustrations on display.

Painting by Mal

Big Pit
The Avenging Angel Big Pit
Acrylic and Alkyd
48" x 36"

beach today
If you go down the beach today
Acrylic and Alkyd
33" x 44"

geoff rigden
Portrait of Geoff Rigden RCA
70" x 50"