Ryan Falzon: ‘Life ain’t fair, and nothing sharpens you up like hate’

Now based between Malta and Berlin, the bold artist Ryan Falzon displays his wisdom in our Q&A

Ryan Falzon. Credit: Inigo Taylor
Ryan Falzon. Credit: Inigo Taylor

His distinctive voice in art has portrayed contemporary lifestyle and scenery in a new and exciting manner, at times seen as brutally honest, merging the political with the personal. Now based between Malta and Berlin, Falzon has participated in collective exhibitions in Malta, Brussels, Berlin, Antwerp and Piacenza, and his solo shows Quick Fix: A Morality Tale (2016), We Lost the War (2017) and Culture is Past Art is Future (2018). His works can be found in public and private collections in Europe and USA

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

Whether I’m waking up for work or else on weekends, I have to keep on tossing and turning in bed for at least half an hour, sorting my head out before being able to get out of bed and face a new day. And coffee doesn’t help, music does.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’m not a huge film buff, and I have like 30 films and series which I know by heart and rewatch over and over while painting. Maybe because I am an 80s baby and television will always have a special place in my heart, the advice that stuck most are lines from films, apart from the 90s chant to watch your drink in Paceville in case someone put drugs in your drink at random.

What do you never leave the house without?

Usual stuff, phone, keys, wallet and my gold necklace.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Stubborn, brutally honest, kind.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

My artistic career, exhibiting abroad and always aspiring for new heights.

We Lost The War, Ryan Falzon
We Lost The War, Ryan Falzon

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

80s electro-pop, Modern Talking included.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Life ain’t fair, and nothing sharpens you up like hate.

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

Unfair with cars aside! In that case, it has to be artworks from other artists.

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

Be more stubborn, and disobey more often.

Who’s your inspiration?

A good number of people I come in contact daily. People who care for me as much as I do for them, students of all ages that I come across at school, me being an art teacher. On the other hand, there are a number of painters and authors I look up to, to fuel my artistic outcome, with constant references like Francis Bacon, JG Ballard, Edvard Munch and George Grosz.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Not jumping the fine line between being a realist to a boring pessimist.

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

Hands down, restoring and tuning classic cars.

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

My grandparents, and I’ll tell them of all my achievements since they passed away over dinner.

What’s your worst habit?

Guilty feelings that I’m not doing enough, I could be doing more, and that I shouldn’t rest as it is a waste of time.

Who would you have play you in a film?

I mean, in my dreams and with a time machine at hand, Robert De Niro circa Taxi Driver/Raging Bull.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Dishonesty. I just can’t take it when someone is cheeky and greedy and takes advantage over others, especially if a morality card is played to justify selfish intentions and personal interests.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

An għana lament.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My BMW E30 and Fiat 131, can never have enough of 80s boxy cars.

What is your earliest memory?

Make-believe images my mind created after listening to stories from relatives, stuff that happened when I was not even a year old. My first solid memory must be me at Kindergarten announcing to my teacher that I want to be a doctor (to think that now I am terrified by hospital food smell, let alone blood and all that has to do with the medical profession).

Who would you most like to meet?

The list is endless, from Joe Strummer, Kurt Cobain, whom I’ll most probably hate, but yes, same goes to Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Jean Michel Basquiat, my two favourite visual artists, to Al Capone and Jesus Christ. And Johnny Rotten. And let’s not forget Tracey Emin.

What’s your favourite food?

Anything Mediterranean.

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

Needless to say, who cares about influencers – but I do follow a good number of upcoming young artists who wisely use social media to promote themselves and their work.

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

Late 1800s early 1900s, World War 1 included, the Modern Art period. I do believe that it was one of the most exciting and turbulent times in history that shaped the 20th century.

What book are you reading right now?

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.

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

Being able to snap my fingers and make anything I wish happen.

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

Keep on doing what I am doing right now, and keep on going forward. I get bored easily, so getting stuck in points is a dangerous state of mind for me.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

My playlist had consisted of punk, 80s electro-pop, CCCP, some Prodigy and Għana for years, and I’m quite satisfied with that eclectic mix.

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

Do I look like someone who sings in the shower?