Embracing chaos and interconnection | Artists Samuel Sultana and Janis Luste

Having opened on October 21, the annual Divergent Thinkers exhibition brings together a group of emerging artists to create work to a brief, with this edition taking ‘NAVIGATE’ as its curatorial springboard. As part of an ongoing series of interviews with the participating artists, Teodor Reljic speaks to Samuel Sultana and Janis Luste, who will be competing with his counterparts at the exhibition for a month-long scholarship at the Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo, Japan in August, 2017

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
10 November 2016, 7:37am
Janis Luste (left) and Samuel Sultana (right)
Janis Luste (left) and Samuel Sultana (right)
What would you say is significant about the Divergent Thinkers tradition, and how does it feel to be a part of it? Also, what do you think it contributes to the stature of your own work as a whole?

Samuel Sultana: Divergent Thinkers is a great initiative for local creatives. Artists are given the luxury of time and a small cash injection to develop a piece of their interest in broad interpretations of the topic at hand. It is interesting to have a variety of visions engage with the same query as it invokes multidimensionality for everyone involved. The curator is very open and nurturing, which leads to a comfortable atmosphere and thus effective product. Over the years, the initiative has also amassed a broad audience which naturally helps the artists in their carreer. I am very grateful for having been given this opportunity – it feels like a great pleasure to expand and explore my work and that of others.

Janis Luste: Divergent Thinkers is an amazing project, which made me think outside of the confines I had set for my own artistic path, and I think the same holds true for my fellow participants in the exhibition. The project concept is great because it encourages people to think outside the box. Raphael Vella was very supportive in helping me align my work to the exhibition guidelines. In fact, without the help of a curator as capable as he is, I don’t think I would manage to get my work out there. 

Cock Fight by Samuel Sultana
Cock Fight by Samuel Sultana
How did you interpret NAVIGATE – this year’s Divergent Thinkers theme – and what do you hope to communicate with your contribution to the exhibition?

Sultana: Chaos has been one of my preferred forms of action, as it ensures a constantly unpredictable state of flux, thus leaving no room for stagnation. As I paint, I systematically rotate the canvas in order to discover new potential that didn’t exist in previous positions. This approach makes the image constantly evolve and compete with previous states. Another valuable tool at my disposition is my use of line. This directs the audience’s gaze in a clear path around the spaces I create. This project is an opportunity for me to expand on this practice and approach, in order to heighten the viewer’s experience as their eyes navigate the unpredictable terrain.

Luste: I interpret this year’s theme as symbolic meaning for searching of meaning. Meaning of everyday routine, meaning of small things in our life or meaning of Life, how to navigate through life to gain most of it!

Janis Luste
Janis Luste
What do you make of the local visual arts scene? What would you change about it?

Sultana: I have not participated actively in the visual arts scene for quite some time now, so I’m not too sure. 

Luste: The local arts scene in Malta is an interesting one, partly because of the influx of creatives from other countries bringing their own thing into the mix. And these crazy new ideas are clearly evident in various exhibitions, public events and other initiatives organised around the island. I believe events like Divergent Thinkers should be made global, with an open call for creative people from all the countries in the world to participate in this Malta-based event.

Roman Goblin by Samuel Sultana
Roman Goblin by Samuel Sultana
Should you win the residency in Tokyo, how do you hope to make the most out of the experience?

Luste: Should I win the residency in Tokyo, I would try to understand the layers of cultural difference in Tokyo. I would like to try to create a documentary photo series detailing people’s varied lifestyles in different parts of the city – marking out different economic groups in particular. I would also like to film a short documentary about artists who work in different Tokyo galleries.

Sultana: I will try my best to be everywhere at once, like my buddy ol’ pal GOD (may she rest in peace).

Divergent Thinkers will be on show at the Malta Maritime Museum, Birgu until November 18. The exhibition is curated by Raphael Vella and organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in collaboration with Valletta 2018, with the support of the Malta Maritime Museum, EU Japan Fest and Japan Media Arts Festival

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