Date of Birth: 27th April, 1954
Marital Status: Married with four children
Star Sign: Taurus
Occupation: Full time artist
Engineer-come-artist Ray Piscopo first entered the world of art in the early 1970s, when he was tutored by one of the greats, the late Antoine Camilleri, at the Lyceum in Ħamrun. Since then, Ray has become one of Malta’s most recognisable artists, and his art hangs in homes and businesses in Malta, Italy, Ireland, England, Norway, Australia, the United States of America and France.
Since last year, Ray has also taken up the role of curator at the Orange Grove Art Café within the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa in Attard, where, together with the management of the hotel, he gives local artists a place to be seen and where to sell their art.
Which three words would describe you perfectly?
Efficient, organised, and logical.
Tell us about your upcoming exhibition, Abstract Rhythms in Nature.
I wanted to explore each person, place or object through simple, pictorial language that transforms and transcends nature, giving the chosen subject a geometrically complex but easy-to-understand form. These paintings belong to my recent works, where I still retain form and detail but still transform them into abstract painting. To quote art critic Professor Joseph Paul Cassar on my work: ‘Realism and abstraction are placed side by side without our immediate realisation; a decorative coherence which is the result of a systematic organisation of exclusive components: namely plane, colour and composition.’
Where can people find your exhibitions?
I have three concurrent exhibitions throughout December until mid January – a series of hand-painted movie posters at the Orange Grove Art Café, Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa in Attard, 12 large format paintings at the Banca Giuratale in Victoria, Gozo and a larger selection of my work at the Cavalieri Art Hotel in St Julian’s.
One of your signatures is to use colour in its purest form. What does this mean?
I make use of primary and secondary colours as they come out of the tube. I do minimal colour mixing, and I consider white to be one of my main colours.
People often have two thoughts about artists – they’re either romantic or penniless. If you were to give an aspiring artist one piece of advice, what would it be?
This is a good question as it evokes a statement about artists of all genres. In general, artists create works because their heart takes them there. Artists make exceptional effort to produce a painting, sculpture or performance. Leaving aside the financial aspects of who buys what your heart and mind have created and seen, the real artist is the romantic one who passes time in studio or en plein air sketching, painting on whatever medium he can find to create his heart’s vision. Just be yourself. Use your heart to give your audience something to enjoy that is meaningful, expressive. Never lose heart. Do not be afraid of criticism and ultimately, do what is best for you.
What’s one thing you would change about the Maltese art scene?
If I may go a bit round the direct question, I’ll respond by saying that the Maltese art scene would be a lot better for the artist and art viewer if the education system focused more on art appreciation and art history from a primary school level. Our children are not sufficiently taught how to appreciate art – past and contemporary – and while it is perhaps mandatory to do physical exercise and similar activities, guided tours to museums and historical/cultural places are a no-go.
I’ve visited many art museums and historical places abroad and invariably, one never misses to notice the long files of children supervised by their class teachers being taken round and having explained what is of value in that place. It’ll be easy to explain how their outlook towards art will be when they grow up, unlike the uninformed or uneducated reactions one reads in the local papers and social media when contemporary art is put on view to the public… Although, not all art is good art.
As for the artist community in Malta, it’s a very healthy crowd and I only wish that we become bolder, although not necessarily shocking, in what we do. This comment is directed towards those people who have a say in spending the tax-payers’ money when commissioning art works for public spaces. Be transparent, publish and publicise calls for participation in art projects, be fair, ensure a levelled playing field, and may the best win through a learned judgement and public participation.
Abstract Rhythms in Nature: Part 1 will be on at the Banca Giuratale, Town Hall, Victoria, Gozo until the 28th December.
Abstract Rhythms in Nature: Part 2 will take place at the Cavalieri Art Hotel in St Julian’s between the 12th December and the 13th January.
Iconically Hollywood is on at the Orange Grove Art Café within the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa, Attard until the 7th January.
Check out Ray Piscopo’s official website.