The heart of the matter | Darren Tanti

Juxtaposing religious imagery with visceral representations of human organs and pitting them under changing lights, young painter Darren Tanti drew attention during the collective exhibition Divergent Thinkers 2 at St James Cavalier. He speaks to us about his evolution as an artist .

Detail of 'Monstrance' by Darren Tanti.
Detail of 'Monstrance' by Darren Tanti.

"Last year I missed the opportunity to participate due to my studies so I made it a point that if the show was going to be held again the following year I had to be in it. Obviously one has to make it through the first selection made by the curator and the ones in charge and only then he/she can start to focus on the real work to be exhibited.

"As the curator, Raphael Vella, explained to all the artists in the first meetings, the binder that held all the exhibition together was the concept of 'Divergence' and for this very reason the artwork themselves could take any form and shape according to the individuals interests and language. Every artist worked on their own and we've only started to see each others' work when we started to approach the set-up date of the exhibition; it was really exciting to see the variety of the artworks functioning so well together. The fact that the curator modified the structure of the St James Cavalier main hall continued to accentuate the individuality of the artworks whilst binding them together through the space distribution.

"The criteria that the jury sought for was mainly 'creative thinking'. But it is not only about creativity, it was also about expanding and developing different possibilities and solutions from older ideas and concepts. Quoting Raphael Vella's essay in the exhibition catalogue: it is 'mental flexibility that Divergent Thinkers aims to display: that intuitive sense that makes artists see the endless possibilities that fork out of a single point of departure'.

"For me it was a continuation of a journey that I started immediately after 'Omen' (my first solo exhibition). My focus is not only about being a skilful painter (something that I guess I will never end striving for) but to use the same skills learnt over the years to create innovative artworks and new pictorial experiences. 

Darren Tanti

Darren Tanti.

"In this particular exhibition, I juxtaposed sacred imagery against visceral images of bodily organs and placed them under an LED light, which dims accordingly.

"I reinterpreted 'sacred' imagery and concepts with an editorial approach, by drawing as precisely as possible (almost photographically) the subjects depicted, such as the kidney, the Host, the monstrance and the heart but giving them an aura usually attributed to fashion magazine and graphic designing. The alternating bright red-green-white LEDs not only served to make the images 'change' but also to give a contemporary aura to the artworks. This experiment turned out to be something of a meditation on the idea of perception.

"It was a 'planned accident'. It was something that was at the back of mind since last year and I never really had time to develop. One of the latest techniques that I developed was 3D painting, and in order for me to create a fully functioning 3D painting I had to understand and explore different fields of study such as the anatomy of the eye and the biology of vision, stereoscopy and anaglyph imaging - 3D film. All these sources of knowledge made me aware of a variety methods that I could develop and explore. If one understands the process, one can modify it to his own needs, and this is what I did, I used my new knowledge to produce a different end result to an older issue.

"The plan from here on out is to keep on painting. Apart from that, I would like to share my art with the public more often and to create dialogue.

"Indeed I aspire to establish myself as an artist locally. I guess that the majority of the artists aspire to get to that point. It's not about popularity - it is more about creating 'valuable' art that is recognised by the public, and for the artist to reach a wider public he has to become a familiar name."