about the artist and work
Stephen Abela is a Canadian-Maltese artist who lives and works in North London.
Simply put my work can be summed up in a Slim Aarons quote: “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.’’
I like photographs of leisure scenes like those by Slim Aarons and often use these images as a starting point to make my paintings.
I am drawn to the mix of nostalgia and ‘Luxe, calme et volupté’ in these depictions of leisure. Here is a place where people are partly naked, relaxed and often unaware of themselves and being natural. I reflect on a scene, enhance and manipulate the image to bring across a more direct feeling about the subject.
The beach scene and other social settings form a backdrop to my own meditation on what constitutes ‘leisure’ time and how within that time and space I can focus more easily and clearly on expressions of social and personal emotional dynamics. In this sense I feel I am more of a traditionalist as I attempt to relate back to painting history and pull away from the other media -film and photo- which ironically inform and are almost always the starting point of my work.
I find in much of my painting I cannot easily separate nostalgia for a bygone era, the sensual from more specific contemporary iconography of human interaction. I think this makes the subject-matter multi-layered and keeps me interested in making work. Hopefully it makes it more interesting to the viewer as well.