Curriculum Vitae

Born London, England.

All my education and working career took place in England:

Foundation Course – St. Albans School of Art (Hertfordshire College of Art and Design)

1st Class B.A. Honours (Fine Art Painting) – University of Newcastle Upon Tyne

Post Graduate Certificate in Art Education – University of London

During my years in Education, my career progressed from Art teacher to Head of a Faculty of Art and Design and examiner of Art and Design for the University of London.  I was also a visiting lecturer in Computer Graphics at the Faculty of Fine Art in Middlesex University, London.

My work has been purchased by many private collectors around the world and was regularly exhibited in a number of prestigious galleries and exhibitions including:

The Laing Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

International Drawing Biennales, Cleveland.

The Royal Academy of Art, London.

The Mappin Gallery, Sheffield.

The Centre of England Art Prize, Royal Leamington Spa.

Arts Council of Great Britain Travelling Exhibit.

The Royal Water Colour Society, London.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, London.

In 2001, after a 25-year career in art education I took early retirement and emigrated to Quebec to pursue the life of a professional artist and paint full time.

Until this point in my life I had always been a representational painter who had to work directly from the motif, albeit that my subject matter was highly contrived, conceptual in nature and founded on geometry and mathematic principles. However, when I immigrated to Quebec, I began to work in a fully non-representational abstract manner. The original geometric impetus is there but I no longer force my observed object/motifs to conform to my vision, instead the painting and its constituent parts are both my subject matter and their own expression, at one and the same time.

Although I still regularly draw and paint from a live model on a weekly basis, all my paintings since 2001 have been largely concerned with creating compositions over sometimes quite lengthy periods of time, trying to combine fairly hard edged geometrically based forms, with looser, more painterly and gestural elements and marks.  This approach has lead to paintings which are multi-layered and full of pentementi, as shapes, lines and colours, are adjusted and re-adjusted to achieve their maximum expressive potential.

Since moving to Quebec, I have exhibited my work in:

The bi-annual Arts Sutton members exhibition

The ‘ Rebelles Rebelles ‘ show at Gallerie Art Plus

I also sell work on line:

FineArtObjects.com (now defunct)

SaatchiArt.com

Saatchi also recently selected me to be featured in a specially curated collection entitled ‘August Abstractions 2015’.

February 2016

Began to be represented by Galerie d’Avignon Montreal

Short Artists Statement March 2016

Michael Newman – Artists Statement 2016

 

All that we know is that the maker of art felt the need of a certain kind of object in his life – in his studio – and proceeded to make it. And that others, seeing the object, recognise the need and find it satisfied.  (From the introduction to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1964)

 

I am essentially a very traditional formalist, easel painter. That is, I try to produce purely abstract paintings in which a dynamic balance is achieved between the widest variety of marks, lines, textures and shapes I can create on the flat surface of a canvas.

 

I love and enjoy very many paintings from throughout the whole history of art but especially from the period that is generally considered Modern Art.  My art is founded on both my love of life and my love of painting.

 

In my own work I try to juxtapose expressive and gestural painterly marks against flat, precise and hard-edged elements.  I endeavour to make a variety of interesting textures and surfaces, and I constantly adjust colours and tonal values to produce the harmony and sometimes discord, that I feel a piece needs.

 

My paintings are like complex visual games; the overall composition is often based on simple mathematics and geometry. Within this structure the individual elements could be considered as though they were notes in a piece of music. Visual notes which create melodies, where they may be repeated making patterns across the surface(silver triangles for example).  Additionally there may be just a single instance of an element(a single red rectangle perhaps), which may act like a musical crescendo, or rhythmic stop. Every element is placed with deliberation and is only left in that particular form if it works within the whole, moving the observers gaze around and within the painting to slowly reveal its secrets.

 

My paintings are not representational, there are no recognisable images to be seen, either actual or implied in any way.  However I feel that my paintings do actually represent what I feel and think about my own life, and reflect my loves, worries and concerns, at the particular time I am creating them.

 

My belief is that contemporary art can and should work in this way: The artist, whose subject matter, is necessarily individual and personal to themselves, produces in the first instance, work that enables them to make sense of, and find harmony in their own lives.  Coincidentally, this work, if it is honestly and meaningfully produced, will be capable of moving others.  No matter what an artist may think they are doing in their work, in the final analysis they can only be a reflection of their culture, society and time.

I paint . . . Artists Statement 2015

I paint.

 

That’s it, that’s all!  However in today’s world, collectors, galleries, social media, in fact everyone, seem to want more from an artist than just their work.  So, although I would prefer to confine myself to my first sentence above, I will attempt to elucidate further, on what motivates and drives me, to keep painting and drawing and creating my work on a daily basis.

 

For many years I painted directly from my subject matter and although I still draw from a live model as often as I can, today I am purely an abstract painter. No recognisable representational images should be able to be found in my work.  Should an apparent recognisable image, appear accidentally in a painting, then it has to be changed to eliminate that error!

 

Although there are not any recognisable representational images in my work, the visual elements do represent my reaction, to the loves, hopes and fears that make up the general chaos of life.  In fact I have always considered both my representational figurative work and my non-representational abstract paintings to essentially be diagrams about existence.  Expressive diagrams which examine and pose the question of what it means to be alive.

 

I am inspired by things I see, hear and read in both the world and in the world of art.  Relationships, conversations and the world situation are all grist to my mill, and I react by painting.   Our lives are full of rhythms created by the passage of time, the weather, the changing seasons, our appetites for food and sex, our shifting mental, emotional and physical states.  I obsessively record many of these aspects of life in private journals, but the patterns generated by this data often inform the visual constructs in my work.

 

I like to surprise myself, and though I like to both draw from life and sometimes draw ideas for paintings, I mostly prefer to work directly and intuitively straight onto the canvas.  I often begin a piece of work with only the vaguest of feelings about what  I am going to do.  It might be a certain colours, or shapes that form my starting point, but once I have begun it seems to be the work itself that drives me.

 

I am usually very happy in my work and I enjoy it, but it seems that it is always certain that one will hit an impasse.  A visual problem, that I am often at a complete loss to find the solution for, and at which point I find myself unable to continue.  It is at these moments that I do not really find my work enjoyable and indeed I can feel quiet miserable about it and inadequate.  I know from experience however that the deeper my depression is over a painting, the more satisfying the final result will be, provided of course that a solution is finally discovered.  I have many strategies for when this state of affaires comes about.  Often a solution will suddenly present itself by chance, and having found the key the painting resolves itself and I feel excited and jubilant!

 

I usually consider a painting to be finished when it thrills me, however there are some paintings which cease to thrill me after a certain period of time, at which point I have to rework them to find a new resolution.

 

Painting for me is acting and reacting to all the elements that I create on a surface.  I am only interested in making pure formal abstract paintings where every visual element, that forms that particular painting, is precisely adjusted to express the idea, that singular work, is trying to convey.

 

Words are woefully inadequate but for example, at its simplest level, a vertical form, direction or line expresses balance, standing and aspiration.  A horizontal form expresses, restful repose and sleep, the ground/horizon and calm.  A diagonal form is more dynamic, expressing instability, movement, climbing or falling.  Shapes similarly, have differing expressive potentials, a square is different from a rectangle but closer to it than either a triangle or a circular form might be.

 

Colour, tone, texture, proportion… the list of visual elements in a painting goes on, and it is the relationship of all these visual elements, in conjunction with all the other elements, that necessarily, must be precisely adjusted, to achieve a singular expressive end.

 

That process forms the basis of my work as a painter, and is, I believe, the true concern of an abstract work of visual art.

Critique Of Michael Newman's Work - D.Lamy 2016

Michael Newman is a most prolific artist who breathes and lives art and would eat it too if he could! Not unlike the man, his body of work is somewhat larger than life, full of vigour and ‘Joie de Vivre’! When he is not engaged in painting or drawing, he is avidly reading about or listening to programs about art and artists past and present. The result is often seen in his work whether as a mention or an homage to a particular painting or artist and that, among other things, makes his work incredibly interesting to look at.

Michael is primarily a formal painter, very aware of the requirements of good art, whether figurative or abstract. Line, colour, tone, texture and contrast all present in balanced and lively compositions. Earlier in his career, his work was a peculiar mixture of figurative observation within an abstract concept. The abstract concept would be worked out in his mind, then worked out mathematically, physically constructed or organised when necessary, observed and then painted to produce beautiful and harmonious works of art yet somewhat impersonal in my humble opinion.

Today, the work is as complex but the play more ambiguous yet more vulnerable. Where a specific problem was openly resolved for the viewer, now, the solution is not quite so obvious. The spectator must be willing to travel the surface, recognise the problems or games which have been laid out, study the puzzle and discover along the way the joy or the pain, the ease or the stress which reflect Michael’s very being. The work is full of potentially conflicting ideas which translate to technique whether it be ‘painterly’ versus ‘hard edge’, ‘wash’ versus ‘saturation’ ‘fluid lines’ versus ‘rigid lines’ to say nothing of the variety and richness of colour and textures. An amazing journey if you take time to study any of his body of work, up close and far away and back again.

A joy to behold and a most satisfying viewing experience!

Denise Lamy – March 2016

Behind the Canvas - ArtSquare Blog Feature - May 2016

May 11th 2016

“Behind the Canvas” featured artist today on ArtSquare Academy- you can check it out at https://blog.artsquare.com/behind-the-canvas-michael-newman/