Interview with Lisa Falzon
The design of the characters in The Path was inspired by the work of several contemporary artists and designers. In this series of interviews, we let the Red Girls themselves ask questions to the artist about their work. Additionally, we invite the artist to create a portrait of one of the girls.
LISA FALZON is a young Maltese painter and writer who first caught our eye years ago when she was making striking colourful pictures in a bold, naive style. In the mean time, she’s lived in several European countries and developed as many different styles. Her recent work was especially inspiring to us because of its “awkward realism”: while almost photographically realistic at a glance, there always seems to be something wrong with the proportions of her figures. This gives them character and esprit.
ROBIN: How come the people in your pictures look so happy?
I really don’t know why they do.. or if they do! Some people ask me why the people I create look so sad… it depends largely on what they are doing. I like to draw people in euphoria, awe, determination, sadness and pensiveness mostly. I do this without thinking though. Maybe I draw happy people because I am happy.
ROSE: Your older work seems childlike and drawn by hand while your more recent images sometimes look like classical paintings. Why did you change style?
It was part of maturing.. I am in constant flux but now I feel more and more this gravitational pull to settle. I changed style most grandly and markedly when I moved to Paris two years ago, because space constraints made me turn to digital art first out of frustration and convenience, then I fell madly in love with the medium. And to some extents medium does direct style.. I paint differently in oils than I do in acylics even! And as to classical art.. my background in art is classical, and I look towards art history more than towards contemporary art, for inspiration. My favourite haunt is www.artrenewal.org – though I do not embrace fully their ethos, they have a killer online museum!
GINGER: I think many of the girls in your images look like you. Is that a coincidence?
I personally don’t think they look like me.. in the past I painted girls with long straight black hair almost exclusively and people would remark that they look like me and I understood what they meant.. now when they say it I feel confused because I paint a variation of people. Maybe they are seeing a similiarity, a something in them that I do not. This is possible. In which case, I honestly don’t know why they look like me.. though painting in itself is for me a quest or a search for something. Maybe it is myself that I am looking for!
RUBY: I had a look at your work process. So you basically cut up pictures of people to make new ones? Doesn’t that make you feel like some kind of Dr Frankenstein?
Yes it does! I have thought of the comparison often myself. I have had a love for mad scientists since childhood.. I love Doctor Moreau too, that story gives me chills. Although needless to say, my style is far more animal and human friendly and absolutely no scalpels are required! I also use a lot of paintwork to make the creatures and environments and faces I create look like they belong to a whole image and try to erase the seams. This creates a literally surreal effect I find.. with photography blending with digital paint.. making it vibrate between two realms.
CARMEN: Do you have a boyfriend? What’s he like?
I have a husband actually! He is a little older than me, very clever and creative, very handsome, and is my other half in every way.
SCARLET: Your work seems to reverse gender roles: women are portrayed as strong and triumphant while men, or boys mostly, just sit there being vulnerable and cuddly. Is this a conscious choice? Are you a feminist?
I would say that I am an equalist. I feel that the way the scales stand currently, gender roles DO stand to be inverted a little. Whenever possible I try to invert the roles, and being an illustrator I have great opportunities to. For instance I was recently given a scholastic text requiring a bunch of kids playing football, with one of them scoring a goal. I will put a girl there, as the goal-scorer. It is almost counter-intuitive but its amazing what these little details do to children and how they can help undermine the stereotypes they are bombarded with constantly. I try to have the princess save the prince whenever possible, and allow the boys in my pictures to be sensitive and poetic and wise rather than warrior-like.