A Gibraltarian wanderer who has drawn inspiration from Buddhism and travelled for 35 years at a new art exhibition at the John Mackintosh Hall.
Michael Montegriffo’s ‘Space and Out Art’ harnessed strong emotional feelings experienced during travel with vibrant colours and intricate designs driven by impulse and improvisation. The exhibition is open all day and will conclude on 21 December.
“I use a lot of vibrant colours which reflect my mood, but there is no fixed agenda when I start,” he said. “It is completely improvised and it is the same when I pick up a guitar and transmit my feelings.”
Mr Montegriffo said that the reaction he receives from people to his work has always been one of astonishment and curiosity.
“Painting is like meditation or therapy for me,” he said. “I practice Yoga and Buddhism, which helps to clear up your mind. That is the point of meditating and it allows other energies to enter your thoughts which I then relay onto my art and music.”
Mr Montegriffo was accepted into Art College at the age of 18, but changed his motive and arrived in London with the intention of becoming a rock star in the early 80s.
“But merely one week into my adventure, all my equipment was stolen,” he said. “I needed some money to purchase new instruments and I was offered a job grape picking in a small village in France. I ended up getting stuck there. The grape picking turned out to be a disaster where he made little to no money, so he decided to start busking with a cheap guitar he got his hands on.
“I made my way down to Spain and lived off the money I would make playing guitar on the street,” he said. “I would stay anywhere I could. I was a true wanderer.”
Mr Montegriffo learned a lot about people during this period, both the good and the bad sides, and reflected on a particular episode of kindness from a grandmother.
“When you do not have a penny on you and you need to survive, the kindness of strangers really helped,” he said. “I was travelling with my girlfriend at the time and had not eaten for two whole days.”
They arrived in a small village and sat down on a bench for around 20 minutes when an elderly lady who was watching approached them coyly with good in her heart.
“She asked if we were ok and if we needed any food or water,” he said. “We denied initially, but she insisted and invited us to her tiny house across the road.”
The elderly lady made the couple sandwiches and brought them tea and cakes to fill their stomachs in an act of kindness from a complete stranger.
“That was a beautiful moment for me that really gave me faith in humanity,” he said. “She did not have much herself, but was willing to lend a hand nonetheless. I was elated by the whole experience and it really stuck in my mind and inspired me greatly.”
‘Space and Out Art’ includes paintings, sculptures colourful Christmas cards, tattoo designs, T-Shirts, posters and much more from Mr Montegriffo’s adventures.