Who is Anna Grima?
I am friendly and open hearted. I live with a great enthusiasm but I can also sometimes be reserved, this is usually when I need to process some thought, action or reaction. I have been strongly driven by my need to create and art has led me through many travels and adventures. In my teens I was challenged by religious doctrine and found a more universal space in works of mystic artist and poet Kahlil Gibran and other spiritual guides.
It was a different time to today, a time with hardly any visual imagery except for books. And neither any art programmes except for painting classes at the Malta School of Art. I discovered artists like Max Ernst and followed the surrealists.
In my 20’s I studied art in an Italian academy and focused on the figure.
In my 30’s I travelled to the most remote places at sea in the Indian Ocean resulting with exhibitions in Australia and the USA.
Throughout the years I have experimented with multiple media including digital media and recently, in my 50’s I graduated in an MA programme in Fine art and digital art at the Malta University.
My father used to tell me “there’s no room for a softie in this world”. I wonder what he meant and how he perceived me. I think he just could not understand my world of imagination, self reflection and my need to internalize and everything I come across, but he loved my paintings.
My imagination took me to some remarkable mental fields which I have expressed with geometric abstraction, colour and form, manifesting into many artworks. In these processes, ontological concepts and content of an inner world found the consciousness I seek by default, and I have splashed this parallel processing on canvas or paper practically all my life.
It’s what I do, and I am grateful to everyone who has supported me in whatever form – seen or unseen, because I believe mental thoughts and words directed towards an artwork form part of the vibration in the works created by artists (This comment is a take on Marcel Duchamp’s theory ‘The Creative Act’, 1957).
However, back to the parallel processing perceptual system I was mentioning. This is how we all define an ever changing world in search of consistencies – this is one of the most fundamental functions of the brain: the seeking of knowledge in an ever changing world. It is the brain after all which produce a sense of self. But ‘scientifically speaking’, there is no such thing as self – only a consciousness. “Consciousness is like data, creating a phenomenal self model that constitutes images of our surroundings, ourselves: the body, psychological states, the past, present, and future…all happening in the mind. But when we are unable to be aware of our own self models as models i.e. having access to the content but not the medium (the brain’s workings) we are like animals who are unable to produce distance to the Transparency of the self”. Bassam el Baroni – Viva Curatorial School, 2015
In other words, if we are to justify being open-ended but disorientated in our thinking i.e. creating only from the self without the watching in on the self, this is not adequate to the present.
How did you get started?
For as long as I can remember, drawing and painting came to me naturally – spontaneously. Images escaped from my imagination to appear on paper in the style of Surrealism and Visionary art. Somehow these early works qualified to transport me from tiny island Malta to Perugia in Italy, on a scholarship to study art in an art academy.
That’s a long time ago. Much has happened since.
What genre do you consider your work to be?
My works are categorized and placed within the multi-faceted aspects of my creative output; these include line drawings and the study of the figure in pen and ink, chalk and charcoal; conceptual pieces in mixed media that play hide and seek with consciousness; and large abstract paintings that emerge from the metaphysical realm. These deeper, more consuming ideas often suggest spiritual values interpreted through the use of beauty, form and design, to reach my ultimate aim, resulting in works that are about presence and experience.
Describe your work in less than 10 words.
Thoughts/feelings composed within fields of intense depth of colour.
Where was your first exhibition held?
Collective: 1982 MALTESE WOMEN ARTISTS – Gallerija Fenici, Valletta, Malta, by Curators Norbert Attard and Dennis Vella (1953-2009) at Fenici Gallery, Valletta.
Solo: 1984 – THE NUDE IN WATERCOLOUR – Galerie Ripard, Fontainbleau, France
How long have you been practising your art?
All my life
Which is your favourite from among your own artworks?
I don’t have preferences but I recognize my key works, these are ‘The Story of Earth and Sky’, and ‘Twelve Thoughts’.
Whose artist’s work are you most inspired by?
Kandinsky (1866-1944), Kay Nielson (1886-1957), and Shirazeh Houshiary (b. 1955)
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
A curator, an architect or an archaeologist
What is the epitome of happiness for you?
When I play with children
What are you working on at the moment?
An illustrated storytelling project which focuses on Malta’s prehistory and which puts my MA research to practice: storytelling upon synchronized media. In other words, this is a storybook with a proposed exhibition of the illustrations and paintings…. and with a few other sidekicks – like for example a short animation.
Are you a morning person or do you come alive at night?
I’m unpredictable, but most of the time I think I keep on an even keel.
How many coffees a day? Don’t embellish.
Sundays can be very productive for some and very unproductive for others. How do you spend yours?
Coming back to Malta from Gozo and visiting our mothers.
Wine and cheese. Yes or no?
If you were given a million euros, what would you indulge yourself with?
A big studio space equipped with pneumatic drawing tables, paints and brushes and some digital equipment.
Favourite place to holiday?
I always love a new adventure, a new destination. I tend to look to the future. My current favourite motto is I don’t look back, that’s not where I’m going.
Paula has a pedigree in TV and stage production (children's and family entertainment) and a passion for the arts. She's taken the reins on The Artists' Directory - Malta and the relevant content for the site.