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© Antony Micallef and Lazarides

Antony Micallef: Happy Deep Inside My Heart

The lauded UK artist is back with a brand new exhibition examining the contradictory love/hate relationship we have with consumerism

Enigmatic UK artist, Antony Micallef, returns to Rathbone gallery with a new solo exhibition entitled 'Happy, Deep Inside My Heart', from 9 September. Micallef’s collection of paintings seeks to blur the lines between attraction and revulsion by tapping into our social obsessions with consumerism through figurative and abstract imagery. The artist provocatively compares his work to a Disney film that slowly turns into a violent pornography, where the viewer cannot really see the change happening. Micallef’s previous sell out shows in London and LA has established his reputation within the Art world and his outdoor sculptures and painting took a prominent position at the Royal Academy's Burlington Gardens in a previous GSK Contemporary showcase.

Dazed Digital: Tell us about the new exhibition...what is it all about?
Antony Micallef: 
For me it’s about a number of things. It’s a very personal body of work. Now the work has all been completed hopefully people can see the journey and correlation between the pieces. I wanted to just play with paint this time. I wanted to experiment a little and I wanted to have fun. I wanted to take my little cute pinks and my dark brooding figures and crush them into a blender until pulverised, then make a light milk shake pink lumpy soup which tastes like battery acid with a little too much sweetener.

DD: As this is a solo exhibition has your approach to creating and collating all your artwork been different to when you are putting together a group exhibition?
Antony Micallef:
 For me a solo exhibition is like making an album, I want all the pieces to talk to each other with a narrative. They have to communicate not only with the viewer but also have a dialogue with themselves. There are paintings which talk about the different aspects of my interest, show off different skills and some which portray different emotions. It’s a bit like being a DJ of sorts. Works to bring you up and works to bring you down. A pictorial conversation.

DD: You've been described as 'one of the most lauded artists' in the Lazarides camp, does success and critical acclaim create added pressure?
Antony Micallef: 
I don’t see myself as being any different from any artist. I think if you care about what you do there is always the pressure of delivering. For me personally I just always hope to improve from my last body of work.

DD: You've branched out into sculpture too, how did that start? What new possibilities does it provide for you artistically?
Antony Micallef: I still consider myself primarily a painter. I think it’s good to have options where you can diversify if you feel the need to.

DD: Which artists do you admire and why?
Antony Micallef: I’m a huge fan of Bruce Nauman. I think his work talks about similar things I’ve started to discuss with my own work. There is an uncomfortable rawness in his video work which I like and it feels very uncompromising. He has influenced so many other artists and I just think he’s incredibly versatile and innovative with his use of mediums.

DD: Are you working on any other projects, if so what are they?
Antony Micallef: I’m going to take a little break after this show but then I’m ready to paint again. I have a lot of things going around in my head at the moment I need to get down.

Antony Micallef: Happy Deep Inside My Heart, From 9 September - 15 October 2011, 11 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1HR.