Michael Divine

What is This Style of Art?

The casual observer asks: What do you call this style of art?
The gallerist may say: This kind of art looks different from the art we show.
And then the collector, the fan, says: It’s beautiful. I love it.

To be fair, that last part is, in the end, the only part that matters: that you – the person who has opted to bring my work into your home – who knows it will be with you for the long haul – that you love it. That when you look to it in your moments of quiet, it sings, and in your moments of beautitude, it glows.

But perhaps, again, we arrive at conversations about art lineages and styles and history and labels and we return again to: what do we CALL it?

When someone inevitably stands before it in your home and asks you ‘What kind of art is this?’ what do you say?

My intention is to make beautiful work, beautiful art. I’ve never been devoted to a style or particular form, although certainly my voice finds its own mannerisms and, just like a musician or a filmmaker, there’s a look and feel that one can expect to find when looking at artwork that I’ve made.

If I have done my job right, then there is always an honesty to the portrayal. From an early age I realized that so much imagery around me was trying to sell me something. Growing up in the 80s and 90s and steeped in American consumerist culture I wanted to create something that resonated more deeply, that one could feel in one’s bones. I wanted to paint poems and illuminate songs that spoke the hidden language of our soul.

I wanted to make something that you, the viewer, could just breathe with and say, unequivacably, YES, that is how it is. (whatever the particular IT of that painting may be).

Certainly, I have found inspiration and have felt myself to be a part of a long lineage of creative exploration.

For instance, there’s the spirtual mysticism of the late-1800s Symbolists but here, today, we are stripped bare of the esotericism that so much of those works are steeped in.

There is the emotive objectivity of the (realist) expressionists but with crisper lines and more precise spontaneity. Also: the intuitive movements of the abstract expressionists but with more refined characteristics – not so drunkenly chaotic.

There are allusions to the motion on canvas explored by the Futurists but with more poetry and interwoven ideas.

The are the internal landscapes of the Surrealists but more directed – more psycho-spiritual and less psycho-logical.

There are the saturated colors and visual intensity of the Psychedelic artists but far less meandering; far more direct.

There are the so-called Visionary artists but that statement seems to suggest that others who came before weren’t visionaries and it also suggests that anyone who paints in that style IS a visionary and, well, we can see where that’s problematic.

And so it is all of these things and more… and less… and just:


The Apotheosis of Hope – Michael Divine

This painting. That painting. A painting for you of what it is for me (but stripped of as much of ‘me’ as possible) to be alive in this world right now. It is built on all that came before and it is nourished, for better or for worse, with all the world is right now. It is the very core, for me, of what this place and time that I am in – this now, and this now, and this now… over and over – looks like as best and beautifully as I can paint it.

It is beauty. It is chaos. It is resonating in this color or that. It a thusness, a suchness. It is just what it is.

Each piece, over and over, is stripped of stories. Stripped of what it could be or what it could mean for me so that it finds its place in this web of being. And, over and over, I am just left with the what it is and how it harmonizes with the whole.

It is the high wind in the trees outside and the protests on TV. It is the soft purr of my cat and the lonliness deep inside. It is a reflection of the whole and is also that which is reflected.

And so someone might ask: but what kind of art IS it?

And perhaps you will merely say: It is beautiful and I Iove it

For me, it is an expression of beauty and, in that, it is love. And, in the end, that’s all that matters.

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