Mario Abela Interview - The Hopper Prize

Mario Abela

Mario Abela on an artistic journey shaped by early memories, challenging our belief in human exceptionalism, & exploring the intricate tapestry of existence.

How did you get into making art?

At a very young age, a significant moment etched itself into my memory – a moment that would later shape my artistic journey. It was the time when my sister received recognition at school and, in return, she received a reward that held immense significance ‘to me’. The reward was a book titled ‘Paint and Draw with Tony Hart’.

I vividly recall whispering to myself, while going through this step by step book, that I wanted to create drawings like him. I remember spending hours and hours drawing and painting from the book. It’s intriguing how such a seemingly small event can hold such profound influence.

I still have the book.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am immersed in a project I like to call “Notes from the Anthropocene.” It’s a creative endeavor that employs a range of artistic mediums, allowing me the freedom to experiment and express visual thoughts about the anthropocentric world we are living in.

What inspires me is a complex web of ideas and observations.

Mario Abela

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

What inspires me is a complex web of ideas and observations. It is the recognition that the Anthropocene is fueled by human greed and indifference, challenging our belief in human exceptionalism. Instead, it underscores our integral role within the natural world. I draw inspiration from the profound biological interconnectedness that binds us to all living organisms and the understanding that everything, from the smallest microbe to the grandest ecosystem, is part of this intricate tapestry of existence. These insights drive me to explore these intricate relationships through my work, emphasizing the importance of our collective responsibility in shaping the future of our planet.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I tend to take a broader approach to my artistic practice, allowing it to evolve naturally over time. While my work may encompass a variety of projects and mediums, there remains a recurring theme that has persisted for the past few years. This thematic consistency provides a cohesive thread through my diverse body of work, offering continuity and depth to my creative exploration.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

My studio days aren’t an all-day affair, but when I’m there, it’s because I want to visualise something. However, I’ve got to have the right vibes, either with a good playlist, a podcast or a good audiobook. Even if I start with research, sketches, or collages, what I create during the beginning of the session might transform into something entirely different by the time the day is over.

Who are your favorite artists?

From the complex compositions of Rubens to the narrative depth of Bacon, the fantastical worlds of Bosch, and the contemporary boldness of artists like Ghenie and Saville, works like these continually push me to explore and experiment, allowing me to develop my unique artistic perspective.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

I discover new artists through diverse avenues such as the Biennale Di Venezia, major art shows, and social media platforms. These sources keep me connected to emerging talent and innovative ideas in the art world.

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