Affordable Art Fair paintings show “naughtier” side of pop artist Deborah Azzopardi

Monday Morning by Deborah Azzopardi

Monday Morning by Deborah Azzopardi - Credit: Deborah Azzopardi

Deborah Azzopardi lives and breathes pop art, and this spirit is reflected in the way she sells her paintings.

Her original works can fetch tens of thousands, but, at the same time, her prints are generously available and mass-produced by IKEA. “It’s funny when you’ve painted something, and then you see it all round the world,” she says. “At first you think it’s really weird and then you think it’s nice – somebody likes what I like.”

Famous for her bright, whimsical and often cheeky paintings, the artist paints mainly female subjects who carefully dab on red lipstick, or simply kick back their heels and laugh. The ladies place one finger on their lips, or wait over the phone, mischievously hinting at a story yet untold. After all, as the 55 year old reminds me, “You’ve got to have fun in life. A lot of my art has humour in it – but that’s called me having a giggle.”

Although she is now one of Pop Art’s most recognisable figures, a career as a painter didn’t actually materialise until the late 1980s when Azzopardi contracted meningitis. It nearly killed her, but also made her realise her true passion lay in the world of art. Nowadays, she can barely stay away from it.

“All the galleries, like the Tate – we’re so lucky to have those resources. I mainly go there in the evenings and do their late nights. You know, Fridays and Saturdays, and then The National Gallery, Wednesdays and Thursdays. All of art is inspirational; whether you like the art or not, you’re inspired by things.”

A lifelong Londoner, Azzopardi prefers to keep her exact location a mystery, but hints that she is “near Hampstead”. She is quick however to name her favourite spot for inspiration – “absolutely Kenwood. And I know everyone says that and it must be boring, but it really is. I walk there most days.”

Outside of rural walks and galleries, Azzopardi enjoys a café life: “friends, family, laughter. I do a lot of laughing. Good friends, good company, good food. You have to surround yourself with happiness… and I don’t drink either. I just paint what makes me happy. It’s from inside. So, if it’s something that I like, I paint it.”

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Having painted for almost 30 years, she finds that “as you get older, you improve a bit; you take a few more risks, make things a little bit naughtier.” She has one piece of advice for aspiring artists: “Keep on, don’t stop – I’d say the same to any creative, because there are so many things in the way – you’ve got to pay the rent – and it’s very hard, and so the secret is to not stop.”

Having had her work in every Hampstead Affordable Art Fair over the years, Azzopardi is quick to celebrate its qualities over other shows. “It’s my favourite one, although I probably shouldn’t say that. It’s really nicely laid out, and it’s bright and it’s got a lovely feel about it; it’s not squashy at all.

“But this one’s quite exciting for me. I’m showing some original works – I normally just show limited edition screen prints – and it’s sort of the first time I’ve done that, really. They fit in with the ‘affordable art’; they’re under £4,000 – I mean they might be £3,999. I don’t know if I want to part with them, but they’re nice. I could buy them back.”

Deborah Azzopardi will be displaying her work at the Cynthia Corbett Gallery, as part of the Hampstead Affordable Art Fair, from June 12-15