Michael Page’s newest show, “ThankYouGoodbye” (teased), features a body of work inspired by climate change in places like Greenland and Alaska. Sadly, his show that opened at Varnish Fine Art in SF over the weekend will be the last in this space for the gallery. We had a chance to sit down for an interview with Page to talk about the new direction his work is going among other things.
Interview after the jump…
Arrested Motion (AM): Tell us a little about this new body of work you are working on for the show. How did you choose “ThankYouGoodbye” as the show title?
Michael Page (MP): Many of these new paintings reference the ecological crisis our world is facing; everything from melting glaciers to rising sea levels. One of the questions I considered was what type of creatures would take our place if we were gone? In these works, I hoped to explore a transformation from this world to another, envisioning new plant life and a further evolution of animals. The name for the show was more or less a joke. I was trying to be facetious by saying “thank you” for all of the consumption and destruction brought on by all societies, and now “goodbye” because of it. It also worked out perfect because it is Varnish Gallery’s last show at their current space.
AM: People often find the situations you put your characters in quite funny. What role do you think humor has in your work and how does that affect the message you are trying to get across?
MP: I don’t really know how much humor I have going on in this series, but I do find a need for it in my work at times. We are not here on this planet long enough to have too much of a serious idea about everything, life in general, especially art. So throughout my life, I’ve always made sure to find humor in anything and everything. As I grow older, I make sure I apply that in my work. At times, I do paint toward a more serious issue, but I always try to make a conscious effort to lighten the subject so that I’m not beating the viewer over the head with my views and ideas.
AM: We often wonder who the creatures/monsters/aliens are that are often chasing or causing the humans in your paintings so much consternation. Can you explain them to us?
MP: Most of them are just the natural inhabitants of the lands I have created. They are simply trying to scare away the ones who have come along so carelessly. I never really knew if the humans in the paintings had a right to be there or if they were just unlucky; probably both. With my current works, I have a few frightening-looking creatures, but they are really not there for destruction or even scaring – for that matter – only for consumption and life. They are just trying to make their way through a new land.
AM: It appears that some of your most recent paintings are getting more abstract. A natural progression in your work or something more planned?
MP: I am definitely trying to go more abstract with my art. I’ve come to realize that I do not need to be telling any more stories with my work. I just want to paint in the most natural way that I know how. Nothing with too much force, but always trying to move forward in what I do. For a while, I knew that I wanted to change what I was doing, but I really did not know how to approach the matter. Luckily, I have been painting with a good friend of mine (Sri Whipple) and he’s helped open my eyes to endless possibilities in creativity. I know that I will continue this route until it plops me into a new form of work. I’m really not trying to pin down what I do; I want to move around as freely as I can.
AM: Are there any other shows or projects you will be working on in the future?
MP: I’m working on a few things right now: a CD cover, a big art fair in Cologne, Germany, the nice Nathan Spoor got me hooked up in this big museum show in October, a solo at Copro Gallery in March, and a show with Damon Soule and Sri Whipple next summer in Berlin. It’s a nice little schedule, now that I look at it. I’m thrilled! I’ll be busy making a lucky reality.
Discuss Michael Page here.