Ray Piscopo is an engineer by profession, and married with four children. Ray has occupied many high profile engineering posts with high responsibilities since his graduation in 1976. Ray have been involved in the arts since early 1970 but is now fully immersed in painting.
How did you get started?
My introduction to the world of art can be traced back to the early 1970’s when as a student at a secondary school I was tutored by Antoine Camilleri (1922-2005) considered to be one of our leading artists and a keen favourite with art lovers. I still cherish the memory of those initial impulses. At the same time I was asked by the Rev Mother Abbess of St Catherine’s Monastery in Valletta to carry out ‘restoration’ work on a large statue of Our Lady. It was then that I bought my first set of colour tubes and brushes.
What genre do you consider your work to be?
In life I express myself by creating order and rationality in my world. Having studied engineering as a profession, the discipline that it has imparted has moulded my outlook on life in a linear and regimented structure. My experience has been therefore a series of events in pigeon holes or compartments, so I endeavour to break established rules and boundaries in my work by being non-conformist. Total adherence to entrenched ideas only creates clinical art. My works are bold excursions into the unknown.
My infatuation for great works of master artists, whatever the time period, (which at best remain unappreciated and only classified as priceless or taboo) compels and impels me to translate and interpret them through my present feelings onto an empty canvas. I deconstruct and reconstruct the original artworks through a series of stages: I look deeper, finding or creating nuances to what there is and perhaps even create a ‘shadow’ in their midst that may be subtle or forceful in quality depending on my mood. This frees me from the straitjacket of dogma or infallible creeds. I also apply the same process to compositions that include human and other forms and background settings, so that the final painting will be aesthetically pleasing and balanced. I would perhaps tend to define mu work to be abstracted realism.
Describe your work in less than 10 words.
Vibrant, emotional, engaging and transmitting hope.
Where was your first exhibition held?
My first participation in a collective exhibition was at the 1996 BirguFest, while my very first personal exhibition was held in 2012 at the Cavalieri Arts Hotel with title OPUS 2012.
How long have you been painting?
As explained in more details earlier on I have been painting in various media since the early 1970’s.
Which is your favourite from among your own artworks?
Over the past 4 years I have painted over 190 large format canvasses plus a myriad of others on paper. I cannot really point out a favourite since all of my works are close to my heart and mind. Each one of the paintings transmits to me a different emotion, and that is the same feeling I want to transmit to those who love my work.
Whose artist’s work are you most inspired by?
I love the masters and am inspired a lot by them. I can name a few however: Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Titian, Pontormo, Reni. Recent masters include Picasso, Van Gogh, Sorolla, Modigliani, Degas, Cezanne, and many others.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Tricky question. I know I wanted to be an architect but since the course was not on in 1976 I joined the Engineering Course instead. Engineering is more regimental and structured, while architecture allows you to be creative but having still to adhere to the laws of science. I was always a bit of a dreamer, hence being creative. Engineering stifled my inner urges and so I had to vent off by painting.
When I look back to my past I realise I always wanted to be creative and to express myself either through music or art. The answer to your question is therefore that if I weren’t an artist I would most probably be dead.
What is the epitome of happiness for you?
Being a person, married man and father, the apex of happiness would be when all the family are together as one. As an artist, there is nothing more satisfying than when I am in my studio in dialogue with my canvas. The ultimate happiness comes when I finish a painting and sit down in front of it for hours, enjoying some wine, before I say it merited my signature.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just sent 24 paintings to be exhibited in Italy…have started my 2017 set with 3 paintings already.
Are you a morning person or do you come alive at night?
Start painting at 9am till 11pm/midnight
How many coffees a day? Don’t embellish.
Replace coffees with ‘pots of coffee’. I brew my own coffee.
Sundays can be very productive for some and very unproductive for others. How do you spend yours?
I paint every day, makes no difference to me if it’s a weekday or weekend.
Wine and cheese. Yes or no?
If you were given a million euros, what would you indulge yourself with?
Given a million euros, I would buy a log cabin in Northern Italy close to forests and mountains and transfer my studio there.
Favourite place to holiday?
My favourite is North Italy, Trentino Alto Adige, and Lodi (frequent visitor there). It would be lovely going back to Annecy and Aix-en-Provence.
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.