Antony Micallef is widely recognised as one of the finest painters in contemporary art today. His ambitious and opulent canvases examine this generation’s complex relationship with consumerism and indulgence. Expressionist scenes of hedonistic excess, shop window seduction and international travel mix with spiritual iconography and lavish brush strokes. Described as “Caravaggio meets Manga”, this potent cocktail has unsurprisingly seen Antony become one of the most compelling living painters. He describes his work as “like watching a Disney movie which slowly turns into violent pornography […] The trouble with pop imagery is that it doesn’t really go deeper than the surface, you have to drag it down and challenge it to make it interesting”.
Antony was notably trained by the notoriously austere landscape painter John Virtue. While his mentor’s influence can certainly be seen, especially in early monochrome works such as Kiss at Tower Bridge, in contrast Antony has often passionately embraced colour.
The artist’s oeuvre also takes in charcoal self-portraits – the lauded Headseries – and grandiose reboots of mythological scenes such as A Study of Icarus. He even exhibited a series of large bronze nickel-plated sculptures, The Idol Kids of Today, in the colonnade that forms the entrance to London’s Royal Academy of Art. The sculptures also appeared in Lazarides’ Hell’s Half Acre exhibition.
His career landmarks include coming runner-up in the BP Portrait Prize, the wildly successful solo exhibition, Impure Idols, on Hollywood Boulevard, and inclusion in AKA Peace, a group exhibition at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts curated by Jake Chapman. He has also exhibited at Tate Britain, and in Tokyo, Athens and Bethlehem (in an exhibition curated by Banksy).