Dreaming up a childhood pop culture fantasia | Lisa Falzon

Back on the island with a new exhibition, acclaimed illustrator Lisa Falzon will be exhibiting a series of acrylic and digital paintings at Cafe Society in Valletta all themed under the umbrella of ‘fantasy’. She guides MaltaToday through the process of creating the pieces which will be on display during ‘Coca Cola Swimming Pool’

Fear and Loathing at the Coca Cola Swimming Pool

“In the most literal way in this show for me this piece is about an actual fantasy. It’s this weird thing -- I found as a kid I shared a fantasy with lots of others from my era, which was this: to swim in a swimming pool of Coca Cola. It was one of those things we’d pick as a ‘fantasy prize’ in games like ongi ongi ongella. Why? I’ve no idea. Literally stumped. But I’ve met kids who would proffer this fantasy and have everyone else going ‘AAAHHHH me too!’

Someone once told me it was a fantasy about sugar, more sugar than you could ever run out of. Whenever we would mention the imagined bliss of a coca cola swimming pool to adults they would inevitably think how sticky it would be and go ‘eww’.

And when you grow up your view of sugary soda swimming sours too and you fall out of love with the idea of a Coca Cola swimming pool. So I wanted to paint about that, both literally and metaphorically ‘falling out of love’ with, or in this case AT the Coca Cola swimming pool.
In this picture it’s a setting for unrequited love, or a love that has ‘soured’. My paintings are often a bit of a visual joke. An emotional visual joke.”

Dream Date 1998

“This was a retroactively-entertained fantasy of being a teen again and on date one of those 80’s and 90’s anime ‘magic girls’ like Sailor Moon or Creamy, but through the queered lens of my current self. There are certainly nods to the 90s, and these were intentional, but in a way this is also really contemporary because the 90s are and have been trending, neons and all, for a while. This was my biggest painting to date, I wanted to make a big BIG gay painting that was fun sugary.”

Epic Comedown in the Alpha-Beta-Psychedelic Galaxy

“This was created on an iPad pro. I like to mix it up when it comes to media. All pieces are sketched and colour-sketched digitally before I put them on canvases. This way I can test out a lot of compositions and colour combos before I start messing around with pencils and paint. I try to limit my palette because I think I do better work when I do. So I just decided I wanted orange and blue and light green then worked off those shades, changing tones in the app till it looked right. The piece in the show is a print-on-wood.”

Earth Sucks

“The moment I saw an agamograph late last year I knew I had to make one myself. I guess just because it’s so playful, no deep reason. So the idea to make an agamograph came first -- then the obvious next step for me was to have two people on the phone just because this is an own favourite motif, it’s what I doodle constantly and what I draw when I don’t know what to draw. I wanted to draw a woman crying ringing an alien phone taxi service -- because I felt the meaning, that of ‘Get me off this planet’ would be a kind of punchline as you moved physically from left to right.

“Apparently they like to get kids to colour-in agamographs in playschools and it felt fun to combine ‘fine art’ with a pre-school medium. As to how I made the agamograph, I go into step-by-step detail in a recent Patreon post but in short, it alternates two images in an ‘accordion’ style format, so I make two images which I cut up into strips. It’s a form of kinetic art.”

X’il-qahba qed thares

“This is a fantasy of being the leader of a gang of thugs. So this is a fantasy of ‘clout’ and being on the dark side. I wanted the animal-thugs to be comical in their parts with their bright clothes and jewelry and posing but menacing as a whole. I wanted the gang to tower over Daddy (that’s the woman with the black hair) but have her still be the obvious boss, like they are waiting for her signal while she appraises you. I often draw animal-headed people and there’s no clear-cut obvious reason why, to me they just look so good. Maybe it’s my love for those old Egyptian gods, made contemporary.”


“I like the look of crudely reimagined tech -- app UX that looks hand-drawn, a little rough with obvious brush strokes. It’s the meta-ness of our current era. It’s meant to be silly, a little cargo-culty. I reimagined the app Tinder as one that gives you access to the whole galaxy, called Alien4Alien as a joke on the whole ‘masc4masc’ phenomenon in gay dating. The joke here is on the queer Berlin scene which I was part of for the last several years; I was poking fun at that -- the idea of an ‘avg-berliner’ of the 72-hour-rave ilk matching up with an alien woman who can lift things with her mind. They both swiped right and got a match. Wouldn’t you want to spy on their date?”