Works as open narratives
Adrian Scicluna is currently exhibiting his collection Parallel Realities at the Lily Agius Gallery in Cathedral Street, Sliema.
How would you describe your style and technique and how have they evolved over the years?
AS: It’s contemporary conceptual art but not disconnected from emotional qualities. A work often begins with an emotional response to an experience. I then construct stories that visually express ideas and emotions. The ideas and emotions behind the work inform the creative processes I employ, which is why the works differ significantly from one series of works to the next.
I have always been interested in the influence of the environment on our human behavior. My previous work as an artist started with sculptures and installations. I would use metaphors to unravel concepts and experiences. I was interested in how the urban landscape, the constantly changing built environment, its physiognomy and the building industry influence our behavior.
During my MFA at Wimbledon College of Arts in London, I gradually turned to video installations and started to work more in the direction of fictional narratives to express feelings and thoughts about distant relationships. Later, painting with mixed media became my main means of expression. I would juxtapose images to reconstruct imaginary landscapes, transfer them to canvas, and complete the canvases with acrylic or oil paint where distant places come together. For several years I have primarily created oil paintings exploring notions of connectedness, but that doesn’t mean I won’t return to earlier forms of media practice.
You refer to multiple realities within your painting Bridge. What is the meaning behind this?
AS: After completing my studies in the UK, I continued to be very active internationally. It’s quite obvious because my images are quite London-centric.
I was walking around London taking photos and in my art studio I was rendering a digitally manipulated landscape and adding images from other cities around the world. Once I transferred the images to canvas, I would paint this collage in an imaginary world of fact and fiction based on personal memories, anxieties and desires.
The idea behind this process was to express the experience of living in more than one place. My interest grew as I began to think more about how we live in a world where we inhabit more than one space – virtually and physically – each with their own strengths tugging at our feeling to be.
Our socially constructed world demands that we be made up of multiple selves. We merge work with our private lives; our private and public spaces blend into each other. Our socially constructed identities are constantly changing: through relocation, social groups, social media, changing technological environments, political and social dynamics, cultural diversity, integration and influences.
The constructed landscape would be animated by the painting. The need to give a physical presence to remote locations dates back to when I communicated with my family in Malta from London on Skype without any touch interaction.
“My focus has always been and remains the influence of the built environment on patterns of human behavior”
How has your painting evolved over the years?
AS: My focus has always been and remains the influence of the built environment on patterns of human behavior. Over time, I have explored different facets as evidenced by my works over the years. Mixed media techniques on canvas allowed me to imagine a physical presence in a digital world.
The focus shifted to a sort of posthuman relationship with the environment. I would paint landscapes, objects and events that draw from each other through the assimilation of forms. Landscapes have become visual streams of data, one connecting to another.
A common shape, line or path through the canvas would be the visual element to connect these “landscape data streams”. Later my interest turned to life in disturbing social events and I started to think about life oscillating between utopia and dystopia scenarios. The webs would have images of the two states intertwined on the web.
Eventually butterflies became my mainstay. I form analog narratives about human behavior patterns in a socially constructed environment remote from nature. The sense of self remains fragile, fluid and ambiguous as the self connects, disconnects and reconnects.
What have you planned since moving to the UAE? And what artistically have you done since you’ve been there?
AS: Recently, I was invited by the artistic director Nezar Andary of the Al Sidr Environmental Film Festival, which was held at Manarat al Saadiyat, a main arts center in Abu Dhabi. I participated as a visual artist in a conversation with filmmaker Alexis Gambis. My paintings were organized in the same cinema space of the projection of its sun dance award-winning fiction film (Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Award) Sons of monarchs.
I am exploring different artistic collaborations in the UAE and will continue with other international opportunities. I was also invited to join a big art center in Dubai with my own studio within an art community.
Can you tell us a bit more about your choice of titles?
AS: I’m always wary of titles. I don’t want to dictate what to see. I understand that I don’t need to be direct and forceful and that I could just give a light poetic nudge in a context. But I like banal titles. The title simply references the protagonist, and then the visual narrative begins to unfold and dig deeper.
How would you describe this collection on display?
AS: The collection presented will consist of a few sculptures, prints and mainly paintings. It is a mixture of different series of works. Artworks tend to be open-ended narratives. The work aims to form a dialogue with the audience by raising questions about personal experiences within social constructs.
The exhibition is open at the Lily Agius Gallery in Sliema until Friday from 10am to 7pm. For more information see www.artsy.net/lily-agius-gallery or call 9929 2488.
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