Michael Vale has always seen painting as a gateway to parallel universes, a way of making the impossible become visible. If the secrets of the universe are to be revealed, Vale believes that there is probably more ‘truth’ to be found in humour and absurdity, both of which have a powerful presence in his work.
Starting his work with only half an idea, Vale reveals that his paintings eventually design themselves in his idiosyncratic “gothic absurdist” style. While Vale’s work is typically populated by various humanoid characters, the artist keeps their humanity absurdly obscured so as not to derail their ambiguity. What we see in Vale’s paintings aren’t simple mirrors of ourselves and our world, but something slightly different. Something from a parallel universe.
Courtney Kidd writes in the current issue:
Vale’s forthcoming show, A Clown in the Moon, aims to present the world as a nonsensical place where things are never as they seem, “a world populated (and led) by shysters, clowns and grinning ghosts – the world of post-truth if you like,” says Vale.
“The thing that appealed to me about painting when I was a child was that it seemed like a way of making the impossible become visible, a kind of gateway to parallel universes. I have learned to trust the painting I am working to deliver a solution of its own, so I’m careful to avoid suffocating whatever it might mean to a viewer.”
Vale is attracted to the Absurdist philosophy that the search for meaning is at odds with the universe, “that rational thought is always prone to ambush from the unexpected,” he says. That Absurdism, the devoid of purpose, is arguably more pertinent in the current climate, where the making of art evolves in a highly charged context.
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The gallery is operating by appointment and adhering to COVID-19 social distancing measures.
The exhibition is available to view online and catalogues can be provided in advance on request. View exhibition here from 18 July.