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Michael Collins at his studio

Through large works of oil on linen and mixed media on photographs, I explore lush surfaces, which combine multiple symbolic elements. I investigate themes such as the symbiotic, romantic relationship of darkness and light, the cyclical nature of life and death, the complexities of inner psychological life, and the mysteries and vital importance of individual spirituality. These themes find creative expression through a rich system of synergistically connected metaphoric subjects: primitive ritual forms, the figure, modern day power plants, classical architectural forms, coastal subjects, dreams and above all, gardens.


In many recent series the garden spaces contain verdant vegetation, which erupts with life amidst abandoned factories, decaying ancient roman buildings and other vestiges of a collapsed human presence. In my paintings nature becomes a punitive element. The architecture is being eviscerated by nature. The buildings are metaphors for our naiveté in believing that nature may be controlled and that it is somehow independent to what humankind inflicts on the planet. Since childhood, I continue to be influenced by my native coastal surroundings, characterized by subtropical vegetation and sweltering, humid atmosphere and symbolic references to water. I imbue these and other elements drawn from my personal experience into a mystical artistic vision articulating the human condition which I feel possesses a certain terrible beauty.


The process of my painting relates to my body movement and to the texture of surface, both its opacity and translucency. Pigment is applied by knife, hand, brush, scraping, veiling and pooling. The sequence of feeding the surface is completely subject to the energy held in each unique painting which I am sensitive to as the content evolves.  Most ideas begin in a chiaroscuro world as color develops of its own accord. I follow the currents of thinking, feeling and willing, which will allow discovery to emerge.


Most fundamentally, my painting relates to the tenants of Post Symbolism, where each painting is an ethereal membrane suggesting the poetic as experienced through dreams, memory, mystery, and morphic resonance. The paintings generate an aura of evanescence conveying essential ambiguities. The resulting opposing thematic elements are centered in supernatural realms where enlightenment and darkness, the mythic and quotidian, by the balancing of abstraction and representation, are revealed in visions of the cyclic patterns of destruction and creation present in nature. The discovered subjects in each painting reveal an art balancing the creative notions of art about art and art about life and the human condition.

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