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about the artist and work

Stephen Abela is a Canadian-Maltese artist who lives and works in London.

Artist statement:

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.


1983 -1984 Foundation - Sheridan College Oakville Ontario Canada.
1986 - 1989 BA Fine Art - University of Guelph, Ontario Canada.
1989 - 1990 Independent study: Concordia University Montreal Canada.
1993 - 1996 Honours BA University of Guelph, Ontario Canada.
2000 - 2001 Post Graduate Diploma Web Design- Humber College Ontario, Canada


Group Exhibitions:

2015 Horizons -NudeTin Gallery St Albans UK
2013 Threadneedle Prize for painting and sculpture, Mall Galleries
2013 Lloyd Gill Gallery Weston Super Mare UK
2010 Mother Bar Hoxton, London
2000 Millennium Exhibition National Gallery of Malta Malta.
2000 Exhibition Humber College Etobicoke Ontario.
1997 Xmas Exhibition Propeller Gallery Toronto Ontario.
1996 Selected Works - Metro Toronto Convention & Visitor’s Association (Curated by Donald Brackett), Toronto, Canada
1996 New Painting Show (Artist Collective) 4 person show
1995 Alumni Exhibition University of Guelph Areboretum Guelph Ontario.
1994 University of Guelph Annual Juried Art Show Guelph Ontario.
1993 University of Guelph Annual Juried Art Show Guelph Ontario.
1991 St Henri Outdoor Art Exhibition Montreal Quebec.
1984 Exhibition of student Work Sheridan College Oakville Ontario.

1993 First Prize : University of Guelph Annual Juried Art Show Guelph Ontario.
1991 Third Prize: St Henri Outdoor Art Exhibition Montreal Quebec.
1994 Warner Lambert Printmaking award -University of Guelph.