Born in 1975, Antony Micallef is a British artist who is renowned for blurring the boundaries between painting and sculpture. For his Platform exhibition, Micallef presents works that primarily explore the human form through a unique method of layering oil paint and beeswax. Manipulating oil paint as though it were a physical texture, Micallef uses dried oil strips to create a multi-layered structure, similar to a honeycomb. These works showcase his technical ingenuity as he manipulates the rich impasto to result in dynamic, morphing compositions. The artist then adds more gestural strokes and paint splashes that contrast with the tranquil background beneath. Featuring pastel hues that pop off the darker tones, the paintings assume a dreamlike aura, capturing the essence of pure pigment.
Immersing himself into his surroundings while simultaneously drawing from them, Micallef's studio is similarly chaotic - acting as an extension of his paintings. Overflowing with natural light, colour and texture, the walls of his studio hold thousands of art supplies, hundreds of books and catalogues and photographs that the artist translates directly into his practice. When working, Micallef positions himself next to a full size mirror, using the reflected image of himself for reference as well as his studio walls for inspiration. The artist explains, "John Virtue taught me years ago - he used to come into my studio and rip down all my imagery if I had photographs and told me to paint from life because it is easier to capture that visceral feeling, that sense of being rather than just having a flat photo where the light is dead."
When talking about his influences Micallef observes that they "are constantly changing and evolving but painters I constantly look at are Van Gogh, Soutine and William de Kooning." These influences are evident in Micallef's work, with the medium at the forefront. Not aiming for representational accuracy or a distinctive narrative, these psychological portraits capture raw human emotion. By avoiding any prewritten storyline, Micallef allows the viewer the space to insert themselves into his creations, finding themselves in a breathtaking topography of form.
Press release courtesy Unit London.
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