8 October - 1 Novemeber 2008
Michael Pettit's ambitiously broad range of both style and content has been a hallmark of his work over more than three decades, and these boldly contrasting parallel exhibitions take this journey further, deepening the game.
Pettit's paintings at the AVA gallery explore images and archetypes of theatre, opera, clown and magician. They can be dark, playful, or iconic. The diverse characters can be seen as travelling players, artists who creatively transform the absurdity, pain and brevity of life into wit, invention and transcendence. Sacred play, surreal leaps and poetic conjunctions abound. The Clown personage in particular is viewed as an existential philosopher, an outsider who with invention and inversion can cut through our veneer. The Magician is an alchemist, changing straw to gold.
In bold contrast to the image-dense figurative paintings at the AVA, the João Ferreira Gallery will show lyrical abstracts. Pettit's work has always been richly figurative, often with a surreal edge, so his recent exploration of abstraction is an intriguing new departure. These large mysterious works are rich in paint and process, their shifting worlds are sensory, rhapsodic and timeless. They suggest the elemental processes of becoming and dissolving, the linked forces of life and death.This realm is both micro and macrocosm, sublime and intimate. These are contemplative pictures for the gaze, the senses, and the mind. They convey a mystic aspect and an absorbing aura to still the busy world.
Michael Pettit is an established professional artist. He has exhibited widely over many years, receiving extensive recognition. Numerous major public, university, corporate collections include his distinctive paintings. Private collectors worldwide continue to acquire his work. His academic background provides an intellectual base to fully developed intuitive works of art.
Since his last solo exhibition of luminous staged tableau's and the ultra-Gothic "Cabinet of Curiosities", Pettit has exhibited at the prestigious Art London fair in the UK. The forthcoming double exhibition in October - boldly contrasting the abstract and figurative - is an opportunity to engage with Michael Pettit's wizardry in his latest resonant body of work.
Michael Pettit's work has always evaded neat categorization. It is enriched by paradox and contradiction. His content is distilled, and layered with recurring themes and cultural references. An individual authentic voice, he has had the strength of purpose to sustain a vision that eludes simple branding or fashion. In fact, multiplicity, shifting identities and relative truths are at the heart of his endeavour.
The core themes of Pettit's work are serious and enduring ones, ever present under its ever changing nature. The works' diversity is also integrated by recurring images and motifs, signs and symbols. These elements are endlessly transformed and renewed, and they network and reverberate from picture to picture across the years, gaining meaning and resonance as they do so.
Pettit's visual intelligence and assured technical and conceptual skills give him a huge choice of idiom to draw on.
"People have often remarked that I seem to be able to fully assimilate very contrasting styles and idioms, make each my own, and produce a work that is its own distinct integrated world. I am beguiled by the "game" that's set and which evolves for each picture, and the challenge is to play it with thoroughness."
These paintings are unafraid of beauty and darkness. Michael Pettit aims to integrate sensation, feeling and concept into resolved dynamic works of art that are both personal and universal.
Opening reception: Wednesday, 08 October 2008 at 6pm