Antoine Camilleri was a prolific and versatile Maltese painter, whose artistic talent and unique creative process singled him out amongst his contemporaries. Camilleri began his artistic studies at the Malta Government School of Art, under the tutorship of Edward Caruana Dingli, Carmel Attard Cassar and Vincent Apap. Later on, he furthered his artistic training at the Ècole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During this time, his talent and skill was evident, and he was thus awarded another two scholarships: in 1960 to study at the Bath Academy of Art in England, and in 1964 to study at the Accademia Pietro Vannucci in Perugia, Italy. During this time, he married Therese Tanti and began a family.
Thematically, Camilleri’s works often took an introspective approach for they primarily focused on his family and himself. These themes often veer towards psychological and autobiographical explorations, which almost leaves the viewer as an onlooker into Camilleri’s personal diary. This may be evidently felt in works such as ‘After the Bypass’ and ‘Deep in Thought’. Essentially, Camilleri’s artistic impact can be felt not only through his artworks, but also through the initiatives which he took in order for the Maltese art scene to grow. In the 1950s, together with other artists such as Frank Portelli and Josef Kalleya, amongst others, they created the Modern Art Circle, Modern Art Group, and Atelier ’56, which set the basis for the development of Modern Art in Malta. This led to Malta’s eventual participation in the 1958 Venice Biennale.
Ultimately, Camilleri pursued a career in artistic education, and from 1956 to 1976 he was employed as teacher of art in the Education Department. In 1976 he was promoted to Education Officer responsible for arts and crafts and continued in this role until his retirement in 1979. His contribution towards the artistic scene in Malta, both through his artworks and initiatives, led him to being a much admired and respected figure by the Maltese artistic community. Moreover, these qualities also turned him into a leading figure in twentieth-century art in Malta, which was cemented in 1996 when he was honoured with the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika by the Government of Malta.