Page 12 - EMCAPP-Journal No. 7
P. 12

Werner: You started at a young age as a pain-
             ter. Have you changed your style? Did your
             subjects changed? If so, why?
             Michael: The themes of my earliest work were
             from  nature—  forests,  landscapes,  water,  etc.,
             but also human scenes, faces especially. Then,
             from  1976  onward  I  painted  overtly  religious
             work  almost  exclusively,  primarily  Byzantine
             iconography. As my art became better known
             in Canada, church commissions came, and yet
             often these would be Western churches asking
             me to paint in a post-Renaissance style.

             I saw the need for a regeneration of Western re-
             ligious art, especially liturgical art, which had
             fallen  into  banality  and  sentimentality  during   Werner: Is there a particularly noteworthy
             the previous century and a half. I believed then,   exhibition of your works?
             and still strongly believe, that Christian art will
             be revitalized by a rediscovery of what we lost   Michael:  Of  the  forty  or  so  exhibitions  since
             in  the  catastrophic  Schism  between  East  and   early 1970’s, all have been noteworthy for va-
             West. I tried to paint in a style that integrated   rious reasons, sometimes in large commercial
             the strengths of both. Though I do paint in se-   galleries,  sometimes  in  church  and  university
             veral  styles,  more  and  more,  the  mainstream   galleries, and often in humbler places. After I
             of my work became what one might call „neo-       made a decision to paint only Christian themes,
             Byzantine  expressionism.“  My  subject  matter   public and commercial galleries would no lon-
             continues to be explicitly Christian work, and    ger exhibit me. I have lost count of the times I
             at the same time there is an ongoing exploration   was told by galleries that they would be happy
             of implicitly religious themes.                   to give me a show, if only I would change my
                                                               subject matter. I declined to do so.
             Werner: How to you make a picture? From the       For  me,  art  is  an  act  of  love.  Ambition  and
             initial idea to the finished product.             concerns about reputation are a horror to me,
                                                               because these base instincts not only warp the
             Michael:  Much  of  my  work  begins  in  pray-   creative intuition but they also deny what the
             er. Interiorly, I “see” a concept or a “logos”, in   essence of the vocation is about: To love. To love
             other  words  a  meaning.  Gradually  this  inner   in truth. To love in truth and beauty.
             word  grows  into  a  form  in  my  imagination   One of the joys of my vocation is to make visible
             that expresses the truth of the word. The form    the invisible, to articulate interior realities, and
             may  be  symbolic  or  literal,  multidimensional   to be a voice for the voiceless—in other words,
             in meaning, or simple. As I develop the theme     to express what is within us all, yet is so often
             on  my  painting  board,  drawing  it,  expanding   left unexpressed for lack of a “language”. Thus
             it,  erasing  and  refining,  the  clarity  increases.   the  response  of  those  who  see  my  work,  and
             Then comes colour. All the while I am praying     “hear” it deeply even as they “see” it, is very im-
             for inner light, for what in Catholic theology we   portant to me.  I never am tempted to think of
             call “co-creation.” The graces of co-creation are   my painting as a career. I’ve grown indifferent
             God’s  inspirations  working  together  with  the   to reviews in newspapers and magazines (there
             human talents of an artist, creating a new visual   have been many), though when I was a young
             “word.”                                           man they gave me a burst of hope that Christi-
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