Matthew Attard is one of Malta's most cultivated emerging artists, and yet, very little known to the masses. Lovin Malta caught up with him to learn more about his intriguing art, which is soon to become part of MUŻA's permanent collection
Photo: Maria Ranchi / Artdate 2014 Dialogo Nel Tempo – We are all Posers
Attard has worked with some of the world's most prestigious art collections – swiftly joining the Peggy Guggenheim Collection team as an intern directly after graduating from the University of Malta B.A. History of Art course. He's now back in Malta, and slowly but surely getting recognised for the name he's already made for himself.
"I felt that if I wanted to persist in my personal artistic practice, a degree in art history would help in the understanding of art’s role throughout time and different cultures. After I graduated I taught art at a secondary private school for a few months, and then went to Venice for a three-month internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection… and I stayed," Attard tells Lovin Malta.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a modern art museum on the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro sestiere of Venice, Italy. It's home to works by some of the most well-known artists from the 20th century – Picasso, Braque, Duchamp, Brancusi, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Pollock and many, many more. It's also one of the most visited places in Venice. So Attard's art historical education extended far beyond the boundaries of what he learnt in his undergraduate course.
At the time of Attard's degree, there was no Fine Arts course at the University of Malta. His style developed independently, and was shaped by the works of art he encountered on a day-to-day basis. He credits his time at Penny Guggenheim and the Venice Biennale with allowing him to expand his knowledge of contemporary art. "I definitely gained an insight into the workings of the international art scene," he says.
This informed viewpoint shines through Attard's own body of work – which has already been exhibited, amongst many other international galleries, at the Galleria Michela Rizzo in Venice, which has featured the likes of high-profile artists such as Damien Hirst. Attard's work is figural, but goes beyond the conventional, playing with perception, depth and three-dimensionality.
"I tend to work in projects, somewhat in a series," Attard says. And clearly, he has focused on developing a technique and style that is truly his own – even if it does show a lot of influence from international artists like Anthony Calder and even Tracy Emin.
His wire-frame, sculpture-drawings are fragmented – shown in abstract form from certain viewpoints, and more clearly as legible figures in others. He uses plexiglass and paint amongst other materials to create these strange yet captivating pieces.
One of Attard's sculptures is now owned by MUŻA, and will therefore soon be available for the Maltese public to enjoy. And while he continues to develop his own body of work, Attard co-runs a design shop in Valletta called No.Me.
The store is full of gorgeous, bespoke up-cycled homeware. It's a truly successful case of bringing an artist's perspective to everyday affordable take-away pieces. And as with everything else, Attard runs it with refreshing humility.
So what can we expect from Attard in the near future? "At the moment I am juggling between NO.ME studio and furthering my artistic practice while reading for a Masters by research with the Digital Arts Department," he tells us. A sure sign that his already inspiring creations will mature and develop into an awesome body of work.
We asked him what he believes Malta can learn from the international art scene, and his answer points towards the future. "I think we can learn to distinguish what can be applied to our context and what can't. We should ask ourselves – what can open longterm doors? How do we design a strategy which both reflects our reality and caters for our own very particular needs?"
Good question. Hopefully the answer is more art that is provocative, different, and challenging; yet rooted in thoughtfulness and research.