A disciplined artist seems to be a contradiction in terms. When one thinks of art one thinks of spontaneity, uniqueness, change. And yet it is the exceptions which prove the rule. Ray Piscopo is one such artist who has just announced that his latest exhibition, OPUS 20XX, is being held exclusively online. Ninety works of art are being exhibited in a digital, 360°-explorable art gallery complete with accompanying music. Free of charge to view, the artist hopes to take art straight into the home of anyone currently stuck inside due to COVID-19.
Trained as an engineer by profession, Piscopo’s outlook on life has been quite linear and regimented, as he himself describes. But, if this linearity is very much in evidence in his professional approach to his career, his truly effervescent nature bubbled over when he decided to down tools and take up the brush.
Prolific and accomplished
Piscopo is now a prolific, established and very accomplished Maltese artist. When one compares his early works to the present, perhaps what strikes one most is his relationship with colour. For the way in which Piscopo approaches colour externalizes a joie de vivre which may otherwise remain shrouded in reserve. Away from the linear and the structured, Piscopo’s art is an able dialogue of colours and bold excursions into, perhaps hitherto uncharted territory. The artist does not let himself be over-awed by ‘big names’. Indeed, Piscopo deconstructs and re-assembles original artworks in such a way as to create his own particular take on the subject, with a subtlety of nuances which give his work its own very flavourful character.
“Being constrained by circumstances, I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors, painting and sharing my work on social media. Yet, while it’s nice to see a painting on your newsfeed, this format completely takes art out of its context – the viewer doesn’t get that ‘quiet time’ with a painting needed to analyse the brushstrokes and dissect its theme,” Piscopo explained.
“It’s for this reason that I wanted to go a step further and take my art into the digital realm in a big way, through a digital art gallery that lets users explore the art I have created at their own pace,” he added
Painting by unusual tools
Most of the 90 works of art, the majority of which have been created over the past year and a half, and which were meant to be part of a real-life exhibition this year, are now adorning the digital walls of an interactive art gallery divided into six zones and an open area that features examples of the different themes and styles on display.
The canon of work featured includes some of the artist’s most-provocative and loved themes, including Maltese landscapes, figurative art, and complementary abstractions, as well as works from the Credit Card Collection, for which Ray used a credit card to employ a swiping technique to apply the paint.
Homo Faber – Fr Marius Zerafa
“Piscopo has had a very successful engineering career – a true homo faber – but now he is also producing interesting works of art; things of beauty that are a joy to so many. His new project of setting up a virtual art gallery to make art available to a wider public is not only valid, but also highly commendable,” says Fr Marius Zerafa, the Former Director of the Museums Department, the author of Caravaggio Diaries, one of the key figures in the recovery of Caravaggio’s St Jerome, and a talented and passionate artist in his own right.
For Piscopo, this is the latest step in an artistic journey that has spanned five decades and which has seen him go from amateur painter to curator to internationally-featured artist. Indeed, Piscopo has taken part in many international art meetings and solo local exhibitions and has curated over 24 exhibitions which helped established and emerging artists exhibit their work for free at a leading local hotel. Piscopo was also one of the coordinators for the Healing Arts Committee at the Mater Dei Hospital, together with Fr Marius Zerafa and others, before its inauguration, and was entrusted with the task of embellishing all public spaces within the hospital with suitable artworks as a form of therapy.
Art as therapy in a time of COVID-19
“Art can tremendously affect our mood, which is why it’s so important at this time in our lives when everything feels so tumultuous,” the artist continues. “All I hope for this exhibition is that it brings some joy to those who are doing their bit to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 by respecting social distancing and giving our health workers a fair fighting chance to save lives.”