Michael Jeffery

One of These Days

February 12 - February 26 2011

The image potency of Michael Jeffery’s art assaults the senses. But beyond the intense colour, geometric complexity and his extraordinary facility for composition, lies a deep philosophical intention: “I describe my work as abstract urban landscapes depicting a sterile environment separate and ‘insulated’ from nature, a manifestation of the mind of society”, says Jeffery. “The visual ideas for my work often originate from dreams, or imagery seen while in the state between waking and sleep. My paintings invite the viewer to consider the impact our actions have upon the world, each other and the future generations of all life".  

Although a lover of nature and wilderness areas, Jeffery’s muse is strictly urban. Through a distillation of observed phenomena the Adelaide-based artist maps the flux and residue of city life. In a play between the addition and subtraction of pictorial elements, slices of the industrial environment are recontextualised - their shapes seeming to sink and surface in a dream-like motion. New poetic possibilities arise in the conjunction of process and subject. The jangling ‘psychobabble’ of an urban existence is converted into a vision altogether more serene and contemplative. “I use painting as an exercise to quiet my mind, like a moving meditation,” he reveals. 

Jeffery employs a most unusual collage technique to present this transfigured reality. “My works are essentially collages of dried paint skins, some of which incorporate photographic images,” explains Jeffery. “Basically, I paint onto plastic sheets and later adhere cutout fragments to the canvas. These skins are shaped to resemble bricks within a wall or perhaps topographic views of an urban landscape. Other forms may become robot-like creatures - hybrids of nature and machine. Compositional decisions are made as the result of an intuitional response rather than a rational one”. 

Along with the overlapping acrylic ‘skins’, Jeffery uses a variety of mixed media to give voice to his vision. Photographs of road signs, graffiti, torn posters and closeup images of asphalt surfaces are subjected to a process that lifts the image from the photograph and embeds it in a gel medium. Similar in texture to the paint skins, this pliable substance allows the photographic image to be integrated seamlessly into the picture-plane’s surface. Enamel spray paint is also applied either freehand like the graffiti on city walls infinitely tagged and patched, or stencilled as on crates and shipping containers, ‘perpetually labelled and relabelled, sealed and reopened, shunted and scratched’*.  

Michael Jeffery presents contemporary culture in terms of a refigured urban geography. From the debris of a product-based urban existence he creates a new poetic order, one which is unified and enables us to see our environment from a different perspective. “I sort of want to make something beautiful out of it,” he muses. “I don’t know if it’s just my way of staying sane in the city.”  

Born 1965 in Adelaide, Michael Jeffery spent much of his young adulthood working with horses in the SA outback until a serious spinal injury forced him back to the city and art. He holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) 2004, from the University of South Australia, Adelaide and an Associate Diploma in Applied Science (Wildlife and Park Management) 1989, from Salisbury College of Advanced Education, Adelaide. Jeffrey was a finalist in the 2006 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of NSW and was awarded First Prize in the 2004 Art East Critic's Award, Adelaide. His work has been collected by the Hamilton Regional Art Gallery, Victoria. Selected Solo Exhibitions include, 2011: New Works, Linton and Kay Contemporary, Perth; One of these days, Anthea Polson Art, Main Beach, Queensland. 2010: Feeding Frenzy, Metro Gallery, Melbourne; Human Behaviour, Linton and Kay Contemporary, Perth. 2009: Industrial Evolution, Richard Martin Art, Sydney, NSW. 2008: Sticks & Stones, Richard Martin Art, Sydney, NSW; Untitled, Peter Walker Fine Art, Adelaide, SA. 2007: The Urban Scrawl, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne, Victoria; Tick Tock, Richard Martin Art, Sydney, NSW; Monkey Business, Peter Walker Fine Art, Adelaide, SA. 2006: 9 Two 5, Richard Martin Art, Sydney, NSW; Myth and Reality, Peter Walker Fine Art, Adelaide, SA . 

*Jena Woodburn, Industrial evolution, The Independent Weekly, Adelaide, November 2008 


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