Hotel Babaw

Your passion for the art was born when you were young and still it’s growing up with you, can you tell us, in a nutshell, how did you approach the first few years and what were your first artistic influences?
From when I could hold a pencil I was hooked to drawing. When I was very young my favourite past time weren’t toys, but having coloured pencils and a piece of paper. I would make all kind of characters and creatures, then I would cut them and spend hours immersed in another dimension and fictional worlds. I must say that I have always had a very vivid imagination, many people loose this gift with time, I am pleased to say that it grew with me. Another important thing that I consider helped me in my artistic path and in gaining my style of work was that when growing up I was surrounded by books on fantasy artists which my father, who is also an artist, had in his art books collection. I was mesmerized by these books on the art of such masters, such as Boris Vallejo, Chris Achilleos, Jim Burns and others. Another form of art which has always been dear to me is comic book art. As a kid I would spend my pocket money on comic books and would normally buy the ones with the nicest covers and interior pages. I didn’t buy them for their stories mainly, but for their artwork. This kind of medium introduced me to other fantasy artists which had such an influence in my style of work, such as Simon Bisley, Frank Frazetta, Alex Horley, just to name a few.
In 5 Years you completed Fine Arts Diploma at the Malta School of Arts, what happened in those years and what is the reason that led you to compose a final thesis on Fantasy Art?
I must begin by saying that from a very young age I have always attended art schools and workshops, both locally and abroad. An artist can never say he knows enough, there is always things to learn and study. The most important thing is that foremost you need to have a very good knowledge of academic painting. You need to learn all the basic fine art studies and rules, such as form, lighting/shading, perspective and obviously human and animal anatomy. You still need to know these things to draw for example a monster. Although it is something which is fiction, the muscles formation has to make sense. The 5 years studying for my Diploma with Distinction at The Malta School of Arts, was a continuation of these studies. I consider myself lucky that I found tutors in this school that understood where was my artistic direction and encouraged me to make my final thesis in the subject that I feel more comfortable in. No one had ever done a thesis on fantasy art in this school and was glad that it was also an eye opener for the other students to know that there are other great artists, not just the ones that every one know about.
Looking at your portfolio, besides the influence fantasy art we can see the inluence of comic art as well, what can you say about it?
Besides painting fantasy art, as I said I have always been influenced with comic book art as well. In fact till a few years ago I was also one of the organizers of Malta Comic Con Convention and so far I have produced and published locally, three comic books. The first one was called The Tsar, story by Joseph P. Farrugia and art by myself and two issues of a comic book titled Hal Mudlam, which I wrote the story and made the art for. What I like about drawing sequential art is that you feel like a director of a movie, studying every shot, angle and point of view. You are telling a story, you are giving a visual identity to a script.
The exhibition represents the Maltese folklore, through oil and acrylic paintings that tell stories of horror characters, how did you manage to represent them and how the idea was born?
I was always fascinated by history and folklore both local and of other countries. I love to read on the subject and I consider that we are lucky that we live in such a country which is immersed with such a rich history. I knew that we have a few dark creatures in our folklore that used to spread fear and because I love drawing these kind of creatures I began searching in local folklore books. What I never expected was that there was such a treasure cove. The more I researched, the more I was finding, many that I have never heard of. So after lots of hours spent, immersed in researching in local folklore books and on my drawing table, I decided that they deserve to be given a good recognition by holding an art exhibition on them.


Photography by Claudia Matacena