Anthony Patrick Vella is a well-known artist in Malta. He was interviewed by a Maltese newspaper columnist, Cristian Muscat. Here are some extracts from that interview.
What does painting mean to you?
Painting is an expression of one’s personal experiences but at the same time it’s an expression of humanity because we don’t live in a vacuum but together with others. It is an expression which materialises and emerges from the soul of the individual, or of a group of individuals in a collective activity, created by means of lines, strokes, the use of materials; it is an expression of emotions, calculated decisions and risks.
Which artist has had an influence on your life?
I was a friend of Josef Calleja. He was a profoundly spiritual person and an artist ahead of his time. Working with the artist Frank Portelli gave me the opportunity to work on various projects. Frank appreciated my work and encouraged me. I have been inspired by many other artists of different eras, including Giotto of Bodone and Alexander Calder.
Is there a work of art that you would wish to have at home?
I am not a collector, but if I had a choice I would opt for the masterpiece by Antonello da Messina, the Virgin Annunciate, housed at the Palazzo Abatellis Museum in Palermo, Italy. It is an exceptionally profound work of art. The painting, representing the Annunciation, features a woman against a dark background, slightly turned and looking pensive, but with her right hand raised, as if with that gesture she has just said her “yes”- a risky decision, but with utmost faith in her Creator.
How do you begin a work of art? Do you have a particular ritual?
Before I start working, I spend same time in silence, listening and having a dialogue with the Creator, until I abandon myself into his hands, praying that every decision and action of mine will be for the good of humankind.
Does painting have a future?
Painting is a way for human beings to communicate, to dialogue and to leave their mark, which ideally should never be erased, or at least takes a long time to be erased.
If you had to be born again, would you like to become a painter?
I would choose to live the same experience because throughout my entire life, notwithstanding the difficulties, I have met genuine people who have taught me and given me formation. Painting and aesthetic architecture remain an integral part of my conceptual thinking – it’s what I embrace and what enables me to have a global and holistic approach.
Article published in New City Magazine, London, April 2020 (no. 543), pp 20-21