Exhibition opening Thursday 16 May at La Bottega Art Bistro, 201 Merchant’s Street, Valletta.
1. You paint in both pastels and oil. Which came first and what do like the most about both mediums? (please mention how long you have been painting).
In a simple answer, oils came first and pastel later. However going back in time I had alternate phases with stints in oils, pastels and even watercolour. I had been doodling and drawing since my childhood, but I have taken up painting seriously for the past 10 years.
2. Please tell us a bit about the collection being exhibited. (how many, the topics, mood, ideas, thoughts……)
Morphing Isles is a nine piece pastel exhibition that has been carefully selected. The running theme in this exhibition, and in most of my work throughout, is the concept of the untold story, a narrative that is only partially told. I offer no happily-ever-after ending – the viewer has to resolve that armed with his or her experiences of life.
3. Do you think your practice with photography has influenced the way you formulate paintings?
My art is nothing but an extension of my photography. I have not attended any art institution, but photography has been, and still is, my teacher. I spent years shooting B&W film and making prints in my darkroom. I hope to come back to proper fine art photography in the future when my art career is more define.
4. You are a full-time engineer – when do you find time to paint?
I am a self-employed Freelance Engineer supporting architects and project managers on specific projects. As with any freelance work the workload is erratic and highly variable – my art soaks up any gaps left in my time-table. In the future I would like to plan more ‘proper’ time to painting and writing. I have some good ideas cooking.
5. How do you find inspiration for a painting and what is the process (+ how long does it take to finish a work)?
There is no clinical answer to this because the process is all about hunting down images. Once I have formulated ‘the image’, then executing it in pastel is fairly rapid. What haunts me for hours on end is the subject image. More often images come to me once I see certain views or subjects. I have my own archive of about 20 years worth of photographs I have taken and I’m frequently trawling through them to see which images speak to me and trigger the process to be painted.
6. Are there any artists or paintings that you admire and perhaps inspire you?
I have never looked up at specific big names but I do like wild cards like Egon Schiele and Edward Hopper. I also spent a 4 year span painting en plein air with a local group of artists. Painting plein air is a real inspiration and eye opener. However I could never escape that gravitational pull of the studio.
7. What’s your link with Ireland?
Some time back while touring Ireland I was so inspired by the place – Ireland is a contrasting place for any Maltese – it is so similar and familiar in certain aspects, and yet diametrically opposed on others. I was compelled to work on a series of landscapes and worked out several Irish contacts including blogs on my Irish art featuring on Tourist Boards and County Councils. It’s all an adventure and still unfolding in slow motion.
8. This will be the first time that you have exhibited your pastel paintings. How does it make you feel? (and why / and what do you wish to achieve from the show?
I have participated in numerous collective shows contributing two or three pieces in various exhibitions under group titles. But it is only now that I feel that my work has come of age and have the competence to flex my art voice. Morphing Isles should be my first song. I have more goodies coming up so keep an eye on my work.