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Cleave your own path | Adrian Abela and Matyou Galea

The third edition of the Divergent Thinkers collective exhibition – incorporating a group of young artists and curated by Raphael Vella – will take place at Blitz, St Lucy Street, Valletta from August 31 to September 27, using ‘RADICAL’ as its artistic prompt. This week, we speak to Adrian Abela and Matyou Galea. 

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
10 September 2014, 9:30am
Adrian Abela
Adrian Abela
Amplified Structure x by Matyou Galea
Amplified Structure x by Matyou Galea
Harp Ruby by Matyou Galea
Harp Ruby by Matyou Galea
Matyou Galea
Matyou Galea
Adornment by Adrian Abela
Adornment by Adrian Abela
How would you describe the dynamic of Divergent Thinkers?

Adrian Abela: Divergent Thinkers is meant to highlight the thinking process a person goes through to come up with a final piece of work. Hence the curator has this interesting job of presenting the final artwork as a standalone, but creating a narrative that demonstrates the thought process that goes behind a particular piece.

Matyou Galea: Divergent Thinkers has quickly established itself as the major showcase of local emerging artists, so I am pretty stoked to be taking part in this year’s edition. I believe that having artists from different backgrounds and with widely diverging practices, converging and exhibiting together under one roof while exposing the thinking process behind their work creates a unique opportunity for the public to approach the visual arts from a completely different angle.

Would you say that your approach to art is primarily local, or international? How so?

AB: I do not consider local or international when I am working for the reason that we have been living in a globalised internet-fed world for a few years now, meaning that we see/read more on what is happening globally then about the exhibitions here in Malta. The approach can be considered local because we are working here even though there is no physical image or mention of the country in the artwork. ‘Adornments’, the work I am presenting at Divergent Thinkers, has both references to Austrian architect Adolf Loos and Maltese Facebook profile pictures.

MG: I don’t believe that these distinctions are relevant to my practice. I never tend to think of something as local or international. My work is primarily sculptural which is something that in itself is not necessarily tied down to place or context, even though it many people’s mind it could be. Jackson Pollock once said that, “The idea of an isolated American painting so popular in this country in the 30s, seems absurd to me just as the idea of a purely American mathematics or physics would seem absurd... the basic problems of contemporary painting are independent of any country”.

What are some of the most important things you’ve learnt about art from school and other educational institutions? What are some of the most important things you’ve learnt at your own initiative?

AB: On my own initiative I learnt to question what I was taught at school and university.

MG: These two I believe are the same thing. I believe that no one really teaches you anything, but you can definitely learn from someone. No one sat down and taught me how to draw, paint or sculpt, and no one can really teach you how to think. What you absorb from your tutors and like wise in any situation in life is through observation. I have learnt a lot at educational institutions especially during the past year while reading for an MFA in Digital Arts at the University of Malta. Learning is an active rather than a passive act, and can occur in all situations especially the least expected ones, so I would say without detracting any merits from all of my tutors who have done a wonderful job with me, everything I have learnt is through my own initiative.

How do you think participating in VIVA will help you as an artist?

AB: VIVA is a brilliant initiative mostly because it has international artists and curators coming over to our island. As I have said before the internet makes you aware of what is happening everywhere around the world, but physically seeing artworks and meeting people working in other geographical locations enriches you both as a person and as an artist.

MG: Participating in initiatives and festivals like VIVA perhaps marks the fulfillment of all the work and studies I have put in to the visual arts. I believe that being active in the contemporary art sphere helps me grow in directions that would not be possible by just locking myself in my studio and by research.

What’s next for you?

AB: I am currently working on different other projects, mostly implementing some public art works and products that have been on the drawing board for years, a video composition and an artist book should also be presented later on this year. 

MG: I am currently working on my MFA in Digital Arts dissertation so most of my time and energy at the moment is channeled there. There are a number of collaborations on the cards that should be interesting if they go through, yet nothing is confirmed at the time of writing.

Divergent Thinkers 03 forms part of the Valletta International Visual Arts Festival. The event is being organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, with the support of St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity. For more information, log on to: http://www.viva.org.mt

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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