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ANTONY MICALLEF | ‘21st Century Love’
October 20th 2022
Portraits that burst with tense and fiery energy, Antony Micallef reflects on the storm that’s lurks just beneath the surface of anyone. The monochrome brushy self-portraits from his early twenties slowly absorbed the elated lights of Tokyo cityscapes and later shaped a practice which today is focused on highly expressive, sculptural impasto paintings. Micallef’s extended residence in Japan became a major inspiration for the series of print editions released in 2005; a street-art style of ragged lines, super brands and cultural icons. 21st Century Love in particular hit the zeitgeist, portraying the divine resurrection of the modern everyday consumerist.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
“Tokyo is the closest place you can get to Mars on this planet”. Ten-storey buildings, painted from the ground up in kanji-bended neon, burst messages to invite earthly pedestrians to a world of pleasure. At the turn of every streetcorner lies new temptations. Luxurious flagship stores with customised scents and immaculate shop assistants; glass-and-mirror spaces condensed with pinging and twinkling arcade machines begging for tokens; Manga-dressed hipsters; and unexpectedly, an alley of tranquillity appears, seized by intimate neighbourhood restaurants, each one hiding behind the traditional noren-cloth fluttering above the entrance. To the western alien, Tokyo is a bombardment of visual sensations and cultural perplexity: everything gratifyingly blended with consumerism.

Micallef stepped into the arrival hall of Tokyo International airport for first time in 1999 and once passing the immigration desk it marked the beginning of a five year residency. Primarily a portraitist, the artist had up until then developed an expressionist painting style, using skilled brushwork that revealed subjects bursting with emotions desperate to surface, or portraying solitary naked figures in a fleshy palette, hinting an influence of Lucian Freud and the British contemporary, the YBA Jenny Saville. For a period of time this particular part of his practice was put to rest as Tokyo confidently found its way into the work. By the sway of the Japanese capital - accompanied by an unfamiliar and stimulating Eastern soundtrack - its bright, energetic hues slowly found its way into Micallef’s work.
ANTONY MICALLEF
No One Understands me, 2005

Edition of 95
43(w) x 56(h) cm
16.93(w) x 22.05(h) inches
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ANTONY MICALLEF
No One Understands me, 2005

Edition of 95
43(w) x 56(h) cm
16.93(w) x 22.05(h) inches
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Antony Micallef (British, b. 1975)
43(w) x 56(h) cm
16.93(w) x 22.05(h) inches
Lithograph on Somerset velvet 300gsm paper.

Signed and numbered on front.
Edition of 95
Available from a private collection
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MAKE AN OFFER
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The first portraits from Tokyo accommodate the streets and day-to-day city life, rather than close-up portraits of its inhabitants. Micallef exaggerated his observations, shaping an artificial ‘stage’ for his ‘characters’ to inhabit. Districts like Shibuya and Harajuku with buildings cladded with neon billboards were translated into backdrop cityscapes as seen through the lens of a foreigner. Rainbows and pink hearts shaped the foreground, accentuating “salary-men” and young women in short designer dresses as the primary subject matter. These works are moments filtering the immeasurable inputs during the day, into one dreamlike scenery of a society where consumerism has gone one step too far and - as the artist once commented - a place where Disneyland and adult porn are almost inseparable.

In No One Understands Me the use colour and apparent ‘innocent’ composition first lead the viewer into the work on a happy note; the grass is green, pink hearts hover in the air and a girl with a slim posture is wearing a faint-yellow dress by Louis Vuitton. However, the mood quickly changes as the decapitated soft toys emerge in the grass alongside the title of the work that is inscribed in a pre-school lettering. Micallef often weaves in small gloomy sentences amongst background advertisements and corporate logos, giving a voice to the subject: “life is gone”, “I don’t want to go to hell” or “I want to be free from pain” as printed on the t-shirt of a grey teddy bear in the work Happy Fucked Up Nuclear Girl.
ANTONY MICALLEF
Happy Fucked Up Nuclear Girl , 2005

Edition of 95
56(w) x 76(h) cm
22.05(w) x 29.92(h) inches
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ANTONY MICALLEF
Happy Fucked Up Nuclear Girl , 2005

Edition of 95
56(w) x 76(h) cm
22.05(w) x 29.92(h) inches
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Antony Micallef (British, b. 1975)
56(w) x 76(h) cm
22.05(w) x 29.92(h) inches
Lithograph on Somerset velvet 300gsm paper.

Signed and numbered on front.
Edition of 95
PRICE
$ 1,950.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
The artist tells a tale of superficiality that covers a dark and twisted existence and Happy Fucked Up Nuclear Girl is as bleak as it gets. In the centre, a girl is standing in a short A-line monogram dress holding her two shopping bags from Armani and Gucci, glorified by the colourful halo above her. Around, her world is falling apart. A cherry tree in pink blossom is being covered in sticky black rain and to the right the apocalypse is evident. Happy Fucked Up Nuclear Girl is not a warning of what is to come, but a critical comment on the careless quest to consume. Here, the girl has been reduced to a nice-looking shell, empty and her face washed out.

From the works making up the Tokyo-series, 21st Century Love stands out as a pinnacle of a materialistic soul. A divine resurrection of the twenty-first century. Contrary to the embodiment of Christ depicted as early as the 12th century, this mortal being has given herself to consumerism; an existence sponsored by American Express, Burger King, CNN, Shell and many more. Her angel wings are embedded by the roundels of US Airforce and now, accessorised with Mickey Mouse ears courtesy of The Walt Disney Company, she is ready for the afterlife. Long gone is her personality. Fully anonymised, she stretches out her hands to receive the blessing by the almighty before entering a commercialised paradise.

Contrary to the traditional Pop Art of the sixties and seventies, where everyday items were elevated to objects of art, Micallef’s works are often referred to as ‘critical pop’ in the way they investigate society through portraiture and the relationship with consumerism. From his early black-and-white paintings to colourful Tokyo portraits, they are a genre of expressionism that asks the viewer to look behind the apparent sugar-coated surface and absorb the raging energy, whether if its told with super brands and decapitated toys, or - as today - in thick sculptural impasto.
ANTONY MICALLEF
21st Century Love, 2005

Edition of 95
89(w) x 89(h) cm
35.04(w) x 35.04(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
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ANTONY MICALLEF
21st Century Love, 2005

Edition of 95
89(w) x 89(h) cm
35.04(w) x 35.04(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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Antony Micallef (British, b. 1975)
89(w) x 89(h) cm
35.04(w) x 35.04(h) inches
Archival print on Hahnemuhle Photorag 308gsm paper.

Image size: 76 x 76 cm

Signed and numbered on front.
Edition of 95
Available from a private collection
ENQUIRE
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Awarded second price of BP’s Portrait Awards in 2000 at The National Portrait Gallery in London, the young Antony Micallef - twenty-five years old and a recent graduate of Fine Art from University of Plymouth - was about to embark on a journey and become one of Britain’s promising contemporary artists. The representation by Banksy’s dealer, Lazarides, in 2006 catapulted Micallef to overnight fame, seeing collectors paying significant premiums for the limited work available; valuations that eventually had to come back to reality. In the fifteen years that have passed since his first solo show, the artist’s works have been exhibited widely at major art fairs, museums and institutions such as Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Modern, and is currently touring the world as a ‘Visionaries’ by LVMH. Micallef lives and works in London.

Based on paintings and sketches from his years on Tokyo, a series of ten print editions were released as part of an exclusive collaboration between Antony Micallef and Eyestorm in 2005. Together, two archival prints titled 21st Century Love and Dirty Deluxe, six lithographs from Tokyo, plus a portrait and a self-portrait, are the first signed multiples by Micallef and represent an important series of the artist’s genre of critical pop. All in editions of 95, each print is signed and numbered on front.

To view the print editions in more detail and to find more information about available works by Antony Micallef, visit his artist page here.
ANTONY MICALLEF
Dirty Deluxe, 2005

Edition of 95
89(w) x 89(h) cm
35.04(w) x 35.04(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
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ANTONY MICALLEF
Dirty Deluxe, 2005

Edition of 95
89(w) x 89(h) cm
35.04(w) x 35.04(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
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Antony Micallef (British, b. 1975)

Dirty Deluxe , 2005

89(w) x 89(h) cm
35.04(w) x 35.04(h) inches
Archival print on Hahnemuhle 308gsm paper.

Signed and numbered on front.
Edition of 95
Available from a private collection
ENQUIRE
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
 
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If you own a print, such as Pink Knickers, Green Felt Tip Girl or Red Felt Tip Girl and you wish to sell, we have clients who are looking for select pieces. You can get in touch with us via the Contact page, which you can find here.
 
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