More than a distraction | Luciano Micallef

Veteran Maltese artist Luciano Micallef speaks about his upcoming exhibition of works made in fused glass, taking place at Gallery 5, San Pawl tat-Targa from May 11 to 26.

Luciano Micallef.
Luciano Micallef.

How would you say that the Maltese art world has changed over the years you started exhibiting?

Definitely the local art scene has changed over the past years. Since the introduction of internet art has changed all over the world. Everyone is watching each other and the influence is instantaneous. When I started there was no access to information and there was hardly anywhere where one could exhibit while nowadays the possibilities have increased. From what I read in the papers, exhibitions seem to be happening constantly everywhere.

What were some of the most important lessons that you learned while studying and exhibiting abroad?

I think that dedicating time for studying at an Academy is important. During that time one can discover one's role as an artist and perhaps one may understand what art really implies. I notice so many people eternally concerned with painting scenery and nudes which one should have done as an art student. Exhibiting abroad makes you instantly realise that the world is much bigger than Malta. The competition out there is fierce and that you are one more among many. Exhibiting in prestigious places is very difficult, like museums of prominent galleries. So far I have had the privilege of having one man exhibitions in two museums, in Spain and the USA as well as in important galleries in Seoul, South Korea and Europe.

Do you think the artist is valued in today's society?

I am not sure if people have a clear understanding of art, and I am not just speaking about the local scene but in general. I feel that art has become an activity of entertainment or distraction. Museums abroad do anything to attract the public because art is has a potential revenue. Museums have become a kind of parks for entertainment. Once upon a time museums were places for contemplation where art was absorbed gently and with much dedication and concentration. Nowadays museums attract with art that shocks, or makes loud sounds, with videos, just like watching a film. Static art does not attract the masses any longer.

What inspired you to open your own gallery?

I inaugurated my gallery in 1996, when, as I said earlier, there was hardly a place where to exhibit properly. I had just returned from a six month stay in the States where I was overwhelmed with the many beautiful spaces dedicated to contemporary art. I wanted to capture that experience and with my limited resourced I managed to build my own gallery. I wanted to see my work displayed with proper natural light in an ambience which is conducive to the work itself. I feel that I managed to achieve that. The gallery also serves to meet people where I can interact with so many people.

You mention that 'the medium becomes a metaphor that reveals the purpose for its choice'. With this particular exhibition, what are you trying to convey about your character, or your artistic leanings?

Yes I strongly believe that the medium that I chose each time represents a stage in my life. I am not referring to a mood but to a process. At this point in time the glass as a medium reflects how I have evolved over time. Glass is fragile yet it resists any form of weathering. Glass is unpredictable and one cannot determine the exact end results. The objects in glass stand before you yet they seem not to be there. Light is fundamental, therefore they constantly change according to the condition of light. All this is exactly what I experience as a person, now, at this stage of my life.

What advice have you got for young artists?

The only advice I give to anyone is to remain sober and humble and to spend all the energies searching earnestly for that one thing that one may consider important to reveal. Forget about glamour and the idea that the artist is a kind of a superstar. Knowledge is infinite.

The exhibition - entitled Metaphors - will be inaugurated on May 11 at 19:45. Opening hours on the following days are: 16:00 to 19:00. More information: 21 411131/79 729019.