Artist Michael Page recently had a solo show at Shooting Gallery in San Francisco entitled “Into Passing”. I was able to interview this inventive artist on his latest body of work and where his colorfully creative work is headed…enjoy!
The subjects in your paintings—horses, humans, plants and organisms—seem to inhabit a mysterious, otherworldy space. The pieces feel strongly rooted in a dark and fantastical narrative. Can you explain a little bit about this world you’ve created and what’s on your mind as you’re painting these scenes?MP: These symbols are commonly found in works of art throughout time, most people can relate to them. Horses are used quite often, as they are powerful creatures that represent so many different things to so many different cultures. With strength, grace, beauty and devotion as some of their qualities, they were the icon I decided upon when creating this body of work. The humans in my paintings represent a humankind as a whole, but are also representing me personally, either emotionally or spiritually somewhat. Plants and organisms do inhabit the environments of my paintings, for they are part of the life force which breaths the colors and forms that I am creating.
I really was not trying to have a single narrative with this body of work, but rather trying to show brief moments in time. I wanted the paintings to have more of dreamlike feel to them. That’s the concept behind all of these ideas and where these paintings are coming from. They represent moments in time, dreams, reality, deja vu, or even past lives.
Can you describe a bit of your process to us? Your images are visually complex, textured, and richly colorful, yet there seems to be less of a focus on creating a “realistic” image compared with your previous work. Tell us about how you’ve achieved this look and the process you use in creating these intricate scenes.MP: Yes, I was not trying to create realistic paintings. I wanted aspects of my paintings to be real, but mainly wanted to have an abstract feel to the them. In my past paintings, I was trying to have realistic moments with abstract forms and textures. In my new work, I’m trying to move away from an illustrative, realistic, style of work to a looser,more abstract and painterly style that I have long wanted to accomplish.
Within the many layers of paint I use, I start in acrylic, building up forms and colors that I want to play with. Once I have a general idea of where the painting is going, I start working in oils. The layers of oil paint and glazes that I use bring out the beauty and subtlety of the colors and it helps shape the piece further. I continue to layer glazes upon the painting until I’m satisfied. I generally would say that there are around twenty layers of paint and varnish to give my paintings that creamy look. I think in the future, I see myself playing with even more layers and textures to really make my paintings pop; giving them super-painterly effects that I really want to achieve.
You had some interesting pieces in the windows at Shooting Gallery that are quite different than your paintings. How did you go about creating the yarn sculptures?MP: The pieces in the window were more a less a happy accident. I went through a crazy last minute move out of one studio into a new studio just a few weeks from the opening of this show.
When I moved into the new space, which is in my friends James’s studio, (James Charles, who will be showing with Shooting Gallery in May) he had a box of yarn and popsicle sticks from which old camp style Gods Eyes were formed. While we were moving my paintings around, we spilled the box, and in the huge mess we envisioned a deer form. I was already wanting to do window installations for this show from the beginning. Once we saw the colors and shapes that were happening there was no question we had to put these in my show. So James and I along with the help of my wife and her niece made hundreds of these colorful diamonds and then glued them together to form beautiful colors of decaying carcass and a flying ghost buck. The two pieces really ended up mirroring my paintings and represented what the jist of the show was about but in 3-D.
What’s next for you? Any exciting news or projects coming up that you’d love to share?MP: I have some projects in the works. Possibly a children’s book on the horizon. I’m in the High Fructose group show at Roq La Rue in Seattle and Greg Simkins curated show “Inle” at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. After those two shows, I’m back in the studio to start a new large scale body of work.
– by Michelle Fleck for Warholian.com
For more on the “Into Passing” works available, visit: http://www.ShootingGallerySF.com
Also be sure to check out Michael Page’s personal website at: http://www.michaelpageart.com/
Photos by Michael Cuffe for Warholian.com