“It looks like a strawberry sundae but tastes like battery acid, that is the best way I can describe this show,” muses artist Antony Micallef while rhapsodizing about his show “Happy Deep Inside My Heart.” The curiously bitter collection is a compliment to his earlier work that has been bought up by leading collectors and A-listers including celeb couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Having just been donned one of Mr. Porter‘s, “Men Of The Year,” Micallef’ is poised to keep waves cascading in the art world with this a rare solo exhibition at the Lazarides Rathbone Gallery, in London’s West End.
An English contemporary artist and painter who says he takes inspiration from photography rather than other painters, Micallef kick-started his career in 2002 as runner up for the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery. In recent years his work has been displayed at Elton John’s AIDS Foundation Annual Ball, with exhibitions during group shows at the Royal Academy and the Tate Britain. His work has toured all over the world from LA and Milan, to Tokyo and Bethlehem.
But beyond the awards and pieces is a guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s honored by his success to date, the acclaim he’s received and high profile audience of admirers he’s attracted. “It’s not something that you really think about, but I’m flattered. It’s really nice that these sorts of people you respect like your work. It isn’t why you create the work but it’s always is a compliment.”
Micallef clings to a statement he has coined about his artistic style ‘Disney that slowly turned into pornography,’ best describing his previous work and he says has no doubt seeped into his current collection. It is advertising techniques that have come to be a part of his work capturing the audience and bringing them on a journey. “With this you lure in the viewer with the beauty but it ends up being quite twisted and you don’t know where the change happens.”
The message that Micallef is making with his work is very layered. He wanted to amalgamate and instill the figures into a synthetic world. Things like the twisted figures resembling experiments gone wrong from a science lab. His art is based on social commentary and self-examination over propaganda and style. His beautiful and troubling images represent a contradictory relationship with consumerism. In other words, as easy as it to be suspicious of multi-national brands, there is still a level of seduction that we allow ourselves by their products and marketing.
“This show is a lot more sophisticated for me personally. I use a lot more colour than I have in the past and there is a lot more use of saturation. The pieces seem to fuse all together this time and talk to each other,” he says of the collection.
Already a prominent name in the British art world, Micallef seems comfortable with his work as he nears the end of his latest exhibition, which closes this Saturday — almost having something of a laissez faire attitude regarding his success. But there is no doubt he has passion for what he does, he is already planning his next project to follow after a brief timeout he plans to spend in the English countryside with good wine and food.Happy Deep Inside My Heart is at the Lazarides Gallery, London W1 (020 7636 5443) until Oct 22nd.