Mario Zammit Lewis: ‘I don’t listen enough to others... but I am learning’

Maltese-Italian artist Mario Zammit Lewis tells all in our Q&A

Photo: James Bianchi
Photo: James Bianchi

Maltese-Italian artist Mario Zammit Lewis has exhibited extensively abroad and is the recipient of a number of international awards that have celebrated his accomplishments along the years. Earlier this year, he was selected by Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi for the Premio Artisti di Avanguardia with the painting Filfla. Recently Zammit Lewis published a monograph exploring his multi-thematic approach in detail

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

If I was painting the day before, I like to check what it looks like the day after. And breakfast, as it is on the way.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Always do what you like and believe in.

What do you never leave the house without?

A copy of my artistic biography published in October.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Creative, believer in the future and loyal in principle.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

There are two of them: one is the creation of a company in Hong Kong from zero with no capital; secondly, is doing what I love the most, oil painting.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I don’t know if I have a pleasure that I would feel guilty for.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That you have to take it as it comes day by day and always believe in yourself.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Paintings that I love from Korean artists, from Tibet, China, Italy, France and much more.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

That love would be hard, and always to look forward to your future.

Who’s your inspiration?

For my art a woman’s body and all that is pleasant to look at – a sea view, a portrait or whatever pleases, or a special request to paint something.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Arriving where I am.

If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?    

Exactly what I did up to now.

Do you believe in God?

Yes. I have my very important reason.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Princess Carolina of Monaco, Virna Lisi and Ingrid Bergman.

What’s your worst habit?

Maybe not listening enough to others… but I am learning.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I don’t like to get drunk.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Sean Connery, as I have been often asked if I was him.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lack of flexibility.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

No funeral, I’ll be cremated.

What is your most treasured material possession?

Today I really don’t know.

What is your earliest memory?

My surprising art prize at school in France in the early 60s.

When did you last cry, and why?

Getting older I get very emotional even at films that I like.

Who would you most like to meet?

There are many, and nobody at the same time.

What’s your favourite food?

As I have travelled a lot they would be too many from Europe, Asia, North Africa…

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Difficult to say right now.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Mid-18th century: I always believe that it was my best period.

What book are you reading right now?

A small Italian book, ‘Vento Da Est’, by Teresa Fessia, my best friend.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Somebody better than what I am.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Be a better artist and a better person to those who have maybe misunderstood me.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Opera, jazz, classic and other, I like to change.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I just think about what’s next for the day, painting, going out, gardening, or anything else.