Andrew Diacono has established himself as one of Malta’s best known and most sought after sculptors. I meet Andrew in his cluttered studio and true to his reserved nature he is reluctant to be photographed – a request I grudgingly comply with. His reasoning is simple – it’s the artist’s work that should be of any substance and not the artist’s own image. Hmmm… can’t really argue there.
Andrew Diacono was born in 1958 and cites his father Victor, a well-respected sculptor in his own right, as his earliest influence. His other great influence is the French satirist Honoré Daumier. Very much like Daumier, Andrew is a master at distorting his figures but the similitude with the French master seems to stop there.
Andrew’s line up of bits and pieces of humanity is a markedly more tragic one reflecting man’s estranged, alienated, and often absurd existence; a panoply of mostly lone figures going about their business in an automated, dispassionate and disenchanted way. And then there’s the absurd anatomy – impossibly huge men balanced on matchstick legs, the awkward looking reader who holds a dainty book in his large clumsy hands, the suited businessman riding an unlikely bicycle to nowhere.
Although Andrew has always painted his sculptures, his move into proper painting on canvas is a more recent one. Interestingly the paintings show an overall lighter mood, “my softer, more feminine side” Andrew jokes. The mood in these canvases does in fact border on the joyful and frivolous and feminine figures are more prominent too with a number of mother and child variations, a theme which appears to be a recurring one with the artist.
Andrew has participated in numerous exhibitions both in Malta and elsewhere but he cites two major shows at the National Museum and The Casino Maltese, both with fellow artist Debbie Caruana Dingli, as his most successful both in terms of the works shown and the manner the works were received.
Andrew spends most of his time in his studio in Saint Publius Street in a quiet area of Naxxar and, though not averse to selective socializing (he makes superb coffee too), values his ‘alone time’ – mandatory for any artist’s creative process. “Truth be told I do not go out much, with me my home and studio are very much my castle” says Andrew. Not quite incorrect either – the large bay window in his living room does command a good 360 degree view of the neighbourhood and does feel like a castle’s lookout post. After more coffee and three hours of viewing and conversing about his work I decide it’s time to allow Andrew some of his precious alone time and look forward to see some more dregs of humanity on my next visit.
A sample of Andrew Diacono’s work can be viewed at So Galerie in Iklin and a sizeable bronze by the artist entitled ‘The Three Graces’ adorns the quayside at the Mgarr Ferry Terminal in Gozo. Andrew’s Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrew-Diacono/150930274972340?fref=ts