Antony Micallef: Self at Lazarides
English-born and educated, Antony Micallef is an internationally acclaimed artist active on the scene since 2000. His work has featured extensively in prominent galleries such as the National Portrait Gallery and Royal Academy, and alongside such artists as Paula Rego and Damian Hirst. Recognised for his experimental style and modern subject matter, Micallef takes inspiration from both classic and contemporary artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, with some critics drawing parallels with Caravaggio.
The works on display echo many of the themes prominent in previous collections. In examining notions of the self in contemporary society, Micallef has redirected his gaze. His 2006 exhibition What a Wonderful World at the Lazarides gallery scrutinised materialism in society and the alchemical pull of branding through the manipulation of popular images and logos. In Self, Micallef strips back both subject matter and medium, making raw and energetic self-portraits his sole emphasis. His interest in excess and indulgence is more evident in his lavish method than in the political concept that underpins his work. Self Portrait Flayed with Gold is a tangibly opulent, materially untidy work that captures this dialogue between extravagance and glut, whereas Self – Oil on French Linen is a more simple, earthy piece.
Micallef has commented that in the initial stages of creating portraits, it feels like “I’m facing for marks randomly” in an effort to “catch an expression of a character, an identity”. The result is an approach both arbitrary and controlled, his distinctive brushwork and marbled, ruddy hues exposing the self as visceral and messily biological. His figures dominate the canvas, but their positions within it are ambiguous, suggesting that it is at our most exposed that we are our least secure. The collection poses a challenge to our efforts to capture versions of ourselves, conceptualising the self as a complex, commodified, but ultimately chaotic.
Antony Micallef: Self is at Lazarides until 19th March 2015, for further information visit here.