Mike Southern, portraits & landscapes

The evolution of my work has gone from black and white landscape etchings to its current iteration of figurative painting. The introduction of the figures is a new development but it is part of the same investigation into finding our place within the world. The old mythology and religious paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque are a huge inspiration for this work.

The figure in the landscape inherently alludes to narrative. Themes of life, death, birth and rebirth are woven throughout these stories. I view the characters depicted in this body of work as players in a new mythology. They are treading in the same waters as the apostles, Apollo, Marsyas, Diana, Callisto and all the other representatives of humanity’s attempts to explain its place in creation. For the time being, the narrative remains vague and broad in its scope and theme. These images allude to the same themes but lack the intricacies of past mythologies. I am relying on our shared history of storytelling and our innate ability to imbue images with personal meaning.

At their heart, these new images are an attempt to sort through our relationship to the land, to the world and to each other. That has always been the crux of my art-making. We, as a species, are part of nature but we try very hard to distance ourselves from that relationship. Often times, we actively work to deny it. I believe there is an ideal medium where we can operate in harmony with our world. I don’t quite know what this ideal is, but images help me realize that it has to be out there somewhere. Image making is my attempt to find pieces of that ideal.
Mike Southern
Feb 13, 2016

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