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Michael Vale – The Transit of Mercury

Michael Vale, T he Brillig , 2015, oil on linen, 122 x 92 cm

Michael Vale, The Brillig, 2015, oil on linen, 122 x 92 cm


Romantic Strangeness Flourishes in the Paintings of Michael Vale

As the English poet Alice Oswald writes, Mercury is ‘a violently magic little place…’ and Michael Vale’s paintings act as portals into an esoteric realm, unlocked thirteen times each century by the transit of this quicksilver planet around the sun.

Deeply engaged in the exploration of the mysterious worlds between our inner and outer experiences, Vale paints melancholic landscapes inhabited by absurdist figures. Informed by the works of visionary writers such as Arthur Rimbaud and Lewis Carroll, and engaging with lyrical surrealism, Vale succeeds in transporting the viewer to an atmospheric plane of netherworldy experience.

It is within these netherworlds that Vale explores what he describes as ‘the mercurial moments of possibility in human affairs’, as enacted by his gloomy and irrational forms. Although engaging with the esoteric and the unearthly, Vale is driven to represent the complexity of human experience through his paintings. Themes of confusion, uncertainty and romantic strangeness abound in works that explore a sunset of the conscious mind.

Michael Vale is a visual artist, writer, curator and academic. In addition to exhibiting paintings, installations, photographs and video works he has also worked as a TV writer, scenery painter, interior designer, and art administrator. His scenic work can be seen in the Ghost Train at Luna Park, in St Kilda. In 2006 he completed his PhD at Monash University with a multi-media “art fiction” project entitled Le Chien qui Fume – A Smokey Life. In 2006 he was awarded Best Film on Art at the prestigious Asolo Artfilm Festival in northern Italy for a video work entitled The Long Walk. He has also been a finalist in the Archibald Prize on two occasions, with portraits of rock’n’roll musicians Dave Graney & Clare Moore in 2012, and Warren Ellis in 2013. He has held 21 solo exhibitions since 1986, as well as curating and participating in numerous group exhibitions and short film festivals. For the last twenty years has been teaching in art schools including Monash University, RMIT, and the Hong Kong Art School. He is currently a senior lecturer in Fine Art in the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (MADA) at Monash University. His artworks are held in several public collections in Australia, as well as private collections in Australia and overseas.

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