In his latest assortment of work, The Mirror Stage — on exhibit on the Invoice Lowe Gallery via January 7 — Michael David confirms his status as an summary expressionist who has by no means worshipped on the altar of protected, mannered and ornamental portray.
His strategy of throwing encaustic to construct a portray — which takes years in lots of cases — has been in comparison with Jackson Pollack’s action-oriented technique of engaged on his canvases from above. However when David pushed too far bodily, he wound up paying a steep value.
The encaustic course of requires heating beeswax and varnishes whereas working with continued warmth to fuse collectively layers of wax artwork.
Beneath correct situations, the strategy is protected. David, nevertheless, was working in a poorly ventilated studio and was poisoned by poisonous gasses that constructed up over time. He was left partially paralyzed because of this, however his give attention to intention, conviction and transformation via art-making has remained steadfast.
David’s works are included in everlasting public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, the Guggenheim Museum and The Brooklyn Museum, however he’s not one to make a distinction between so-called excessive and low artwork.
He’s an inspiration omnivore, as prone to consult with Orson Welles or Bruce Lee in a portray, as to cite David Bowie or The Beatles. And he’s no stranger to music. He was a pioneer in New York’s early punk rock scene when he was a bass participant for the Numbers; he describes punk rock as his church.
“I at all times wished my work to have the immediacy, realness, hazard and presence that I felt in that music,” says David, who gave up taking part in in a band to color full time. “After I got here off the stage . . . I wished one thing that was as intense, as fast and transformative because the expertise I had on stage.”
David’s newest work delivers on all of the depth, immediacy and transformation he’s sought over a 40-year profession. By the identical token, there’s a levity, iridescence and translucence to his newfound expression that not solely encourages self-reflection however challenges the viewer to contemplate a special aircraft of existence the place transcendence is a chance.
David talked with ArtsATL about about desires, the placement that reinvigorated his creativeness and his North Star for locating one’s voice as an artist.
ArtsATL: What’s your philosophy as an artist?
Michael David: After I educate, I at all times say you need three issues out of your life: freedom, the braveness to pursue that freedom, and the integrity to know if you’re doing one thing to please any individual else [versus yourself] and to personal the distinction.
ArtsATL: Is it true that your mirror work took form in a dream?
David: I had a dream of the bottom, the tar, the shattered glass — and my imaginative and prescient of what might be was so direct and unfiltered I used to be instantly locked in and pushed to finish the collection. Jasper Johns dreamt concerning the flags. Paul McCartney wakened with the melody for “Yesterday” in his head. Generally, when the chance to be a channel occurs, you need to do it.
ArtsATL: You created this work in simply six months. How did surroundings inform and encourage the work?
David: My portray companion, Astrid Dick, and I rented Judy Pfaff’s home within the village of Tivoli, New York. [Pfaff is considered by many critics to be the pioneer of installation art.] We labored in a 2,000-square-foot barn with 30-foot ceilings that was a three-minute stroll from her home. Simply having the ability to stroll to the studio was a present. And dealing alongside an artist who had the fervour for portray that I had after I was 25 years outdated was a painter’s dream.
We additionally hosted poetry readings . . . the place I found that poets are like painters was once, so free and open, as a result of there’s no excessive stakes within the enterprise of writing poetry.
ArtsATL: Inform me concerning the piece you named for Astrid.
David: The title, Pink Moon (For Astrid), is predicated on essentially the most lovely love tune ever written [Nick Drake’s Pink Moon] . . . and could be very particular to an incredible night we shared Upstate — waking up at three within the morning, strolling the grounds, searching for shelter below a tree as snow began to come back down, and seeing a pink moon.
Coincidentally, I had some classic pink glass they don’t make any extra sitting round all summer season. I used to be afraid to interrupt it as a result of the mirror was so lovely. However when that evening occurred the portray turn out to be clear to me. I knew what I needed to do, and shattering that tumbler was an act of religion and destiny.
ArtsATL: Do you see this assortment as metaphor for relationships with others?
David: Greater than the connection with one other individual, I’m inviting you, the viewer, to have a look at your self and make peace with who you might be . . . to decelerate, reconcile the complete image — together with your brokenness — and mediate that have with out having it to destroy you. We’re all imperfect . . . that’s what makes us human and exquisite.
My work additionally replicate the fractured instances we’re in right now. There’s a low-level nervousness and dislocation that’s fixed, which calls for a form of compassion for oneself.
In the end, this assortment is concerning the mild . . . the sunshine that’s mirrored via self-reflection and self-acceptance. Hopefully, my work can function a reminder that the locations the place we’ve been shattered are additionally the locations that allow the sunshine in and permit for the form of therapeutic that may comply with self-reflection and self-acceptance.
Gail O’Neill is an ArtsATL editor-at-large. She hosts and coproduces Collective Data a dialogal collection that’s broadcast on THEA Community, and regularly moderates creator talks for the Atlanta Historical past Heart.