Winner of the People’s Choice, Nillumbik Art Prize 2013.
September 3, 2013 | Posted By: 000
Congratulations to Michael Peck, winner of the 2013 Nillumbik Prize Montsalvat People’s Choice Award.
It is with great pleasure that Montsalvat, in association with the Nillumbik Shire Council, announce the winner of the 2013 Nillumbik Prize Montsalvat People’s Choice Award. The winner is Michael Peck for his painting titled The Ghost of Little River. Michael was presented with his cheque for $500 by Chair of the Montsalvat Board – Morag Fraser in front of a large crowd last Saturday afternoon. Montsalvat and Nillumbik Shire Council congratulate Michael on this achievement.
The winner of the $100 voucher to the restaurant at Montsalvat was chosen from the hundreds of people who registered their choice. Congratulations to Tina L. who was this year’s winner. We hope that Tina enjoys her meal with us here at Montsalvat. Thank you to all of those who voted in the 2013 Montsalvat People’s Choice Award. We hope you will support this event again next year.
About the Artwork
The Ghost of Little River is influenced by the countryside surrounding the Nillumbik region and the repository of history and memory that it represents for those who have lived within it. When we live somewhere, the land takes on new form, it becomes more than just earth and begins to translate something of the layers of experience we remember it by. This painting seeks to create a tension between the beauty and danger that is present within our landscape and to underline the sublime impression that this can make on us as participants of its drama.
Image: Michael Peck, The Ghost of Little River, oil on linen, 260cm x 150cm.
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Love & Fear.
Michael Peck’s most recent paintings are the beginning of a new body of work; developed during a three-month residency at Birrarung House in Melbourne’s fringe bush land. Inspired by the isolation of the surrounding landscape, the artist has reimagined the human experience within a familiar yet somewhat inexplicable environment.
The images draw on the iconography of landscape juxtaposed with figures engaged in an ambiguous mix of invented rituals and traditions. It is a landscape devoid of modern technology. A world detached from the world we know. Neither adhering tightly to either the past, present or future but, rather, one that could exist in any time. Acting as a metaphorical frontier, the scenes explore questions about survival and human adaptation.
The participants in the paintings are adorned with objects of symbolic significance and practical usefulness. Firewood is bound together, adorned with beads, woven rope, skulls and hunted game. Each of the objects is significant within the basic necessities of life and a reminder of death. The figures bodies and clothing also show the traces of modest primal markings; simple symbols of time passed and a counting down of days left.
These paintings are not supposed to be post-apocalyptic but rather a poetic attempt for the artist to make sense of his own anxieties, values and longings.
They deal with a love of everything sacred and the fear of losing it all.
To view the article, visit: Blisss Magazine
Feature painting: ‘Keepsake’ 2013, 152 x 152cm, oil on linen. Michael Peck. Copyright.
This painting is part of Michael’s upcoming exhibition: “Love & Fear” at Metro Gallery, Melbourne Australia, in November. For more details on Michael’s paintings and his show please visit Metro Gallery’s website. Or please contact Jacinta Cavalot, Gallery Manager for any inquires. +61 3 9500 8511 or +61 488 300 300 email: email@example.com
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Vault Magazine, Issue 4. August 2013.
August 4, 2013 | Posted By: 000
‘Love & Fear’
Innocence and experience in the art of Michael Peck.
Michael Peck does create alternate universes; they are ones that appropriate memories from chronological time but when he presents them in his art one is aware that the present holds for him the promises of, and fears for that which has happened and that which is yet to come. His use of children in his art is of particular interest in this respect as they embody a future to be navigated as well as the sheer weight of history. His visions across his exhibitions focus on innocence but of the kind that at the moment of optimism may at any point be ruptured by a tragic awareness of its transitory state. Emotions of hope and fear wrestle for dominance in his art. This makes for sombre art certainly but also the sense that recognising the dangers of our world and the ramifications of human will and error is also an attainment.
Michael Peck has now an enduring presence in the art world. Since his mid twenties he has had twelve solo exhibitions in both Melbourne and Sydney – his last four at Metro gallery in Armadale Melbourne. He has fulfilled the early prophecy implied in being awarded ‘the most prominent first year painter at Monash University’ as a nineteen year old, winning the ‘National Gallery of Victorian Trustees Award’ two years later. Since those early days he has been a finalist in ten of the most prestigious national art prizes including the Archibald Prize in 2012. Peck has had public commissions in Australia and Europe and his work is part of both public and private collections in Australia, London, New York and Hong Kong. His current solo exhibition scheduled from November 18th till December 14th at Metro Gallery, further develops his themes of living in a world in a constant state of change and to a large extent one senses that his paintings are moments of anticipation usually embodied in the form of a young boy transfixed in a moment of stillness; this embodies for an audience the subject as potential actor in a state of contemplation. Peck notes:
‘I’m always seeking to create a tension in the work – the suspense in the feeling that something has just happened or is about to happen. The paintings often represent a pause; a moment of contemplation, where a decision is made and understanding is gained. These moments are pivotal; they present a change of direction and perspective, the beginning of metamorphosis.’
And yet one can’t quite place his figure in any particular historical period; Peck in fact selects ‘elements from different time frames, in order to create alternate realities’. These other possible worlds are represented in the narratives that pervade his paintings; whether they are deliberately imposed is doubtful but the viewer sees the boy with the binoculars and wants to know what he is seeing. Are there more ducks in flight following those in the sky? Where is this child in this attitude of surveillance? A bunker-like structure dominates the background - its entrance obscured by wild unkempt vegetation suggesting a different kind of hiding place to the one now claimed by the boy. Of course it is unseen from the road but the lampposts and wires signal its urban connections. The blossoms are delicate like snow, the light luminous despite the suggestion of a sepia photograph. Did he find those old style binoculars in the ‘shed’ overgrown and long abandoned? I asked Michael if he saw the image that will form the content of his painting before the ‘narrative’/idea or after or simultaneously? His response was intriguing in that it led to his discussing his artistic process in an illuminating way:
‘Often during the drawing process there is a push and pull between the image and the narrative. The process can start with either an image in my head or an idea I’d like to explore. However I never set out to produce a body of work with a clear idea of where I will end up. Rather, the narrative really starts to take shape as a dialogue starts to form naturally between the works. I work fairly instinctively; I don’t always understand what I’m painting about, but I like the moment when they reveal something new to me’.
Peck does not reject biographical connection made between his art and his life and concedes that the small boy in the paintings might be ‘different versions of himself… either versions that I am fearful of or versions that I long to be’. It is tempting to tease this out further but Peck’s philosophies of life are such that this is merely one perspective among a multiplicity of others. His interest in the necessity of navigating both conditions of loving and fearing reminds one that dreams themselves, at least within the Freudian model, are driven by these emotions and related desires. Peck’s paintings do generate forces of Eros (love) and Thanatos (death) ones that he demands to be acknowledged as part of our experience and certainly they do have the aura of a dream. Generally there is an optimism attached to these perceptions and it comes in the guise of uncertainty. Look for example at the painting where the figure is in a state of contemplation and the immediate environs is shrouded in fog. Peck speaks of the ‘frontier’ – another place- situated somewhere between our inner and outer worlds and also common to both. ‘Fog’ he says ‘represents indefiniteness, a state between the real and the unreal’. ‘In fog’ he notes, ‘we need to move slower, a more cautious awareness arises’.
He, for example, may blur boundaries in one painting suggesting an unknowable world but Peck does not stand still in his navigation between loving and fearing. The figure that stands very still in the water with ancient forest trees surrounding him is employed to further explore the motif of water in both its metaphorical and literal meaning:
‘I have used water symbolically in a number of ways in the past, however these works really adhere to the philosophy that the lotus, the most beautiful flower, grows in the mud. Enlightenment comes through adversity. We all face the same obstacles; sadness, loss, illness, dying and death, however it is often through experiencing these things that we gain wisdom and become more compassionate’.
In talking with Michael Peck he seems to inhabit different planes of thinking and experiencing. These planes of meaning do intersect but what is clear is that Peck seeks to represent the search for meaning in his art. It affirms his struggle to sustain a belief in the sacred with all its contradictions, his determination to hold close to him priorities that relate to his role as a father, his awareness of the fears and love that permeate that state and his existential preference to face the fact of mortality in order to find the most from life itself. Peck plays with symbols appropriated from across time: His birds are soul-like and embody the spirit of freedom and escape as well as the benefit of seeing an over-view of humanity from above.
His coupling of the bird with the skull and his general use of both these elements testify to the awareness of dualities. The skull he explains in these paintings perform two particular symbolic functions. Firstly, it is:
‘A reference to the tradition of ‘Memento Mori’. The symbol of the skull acts as a reminder of mortality. Awareness of death allows us a greater appreciation of life. The paintings present elements of young and old, death and rebirth, darkness and light. These things, although opposite, exist together; without the contrast we would not be as aware of their greater significance’. And secondly the skulls are: ‘A physical and symbolic aide-mémoire of rituals, values and traditions passed between generations. The shaping of our values and beliefs originate in our ancestors and can act to either strengthen or burden us. The paintings represent a simultaneous respect as well as a questioning of these things’. Which brings me to the ducks/birds that appear so often in his surreal, still landscapes. They do of course have the ability to see all in their long-distanced flight patterns. Peck elaborates: ‘they have lightness and they defy gravity. They represent freedom to us yet at the same time we are a threat to them’.
Peck is primarily interested, to quote him ‘in creating new worlds, which draw on past, present, future as well as all the possibilities of the imagination’. Peck explained that he selected elements from different time frames, in order to create alternate realities. However with every reference to another time, with every dream-like narrative fed by love and fear, with every painted philosophical insight his creations of new ‘being’, and new landscapes/mindscapes, bring into view a little boy lost and a little boy found.
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Michael Peck announced as a finalist for the 2012 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize.
July 13, 2012 | Posted By: 000
Fighter Pilot #3, oil on linen, 137 x 137 cm
Michael Peck has been announced as a finalist in this years Doug Moran Portrait prize. The Prize is renowned as Australia’s most important portrait prize, awarding the winning artist a prize of $150,000. It is the worlds richest portrait prize.
My grandfather was a beautiful man; kind, generous and loving but at the same time he was haunted by his experiences of war. These were things that he never really spoke about. In 2010 when he passed away, I could not help but think that I knew so little about his life. The choice to paint my own son in memory of my grandfather pays respect to his sacrifices and the legacy he left behind.
Doug Moran National Portrait Prize
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Michael Peck – Archibald Prize 2012 Finalist
April 3, 2012 | Posted By: Jon
Michael is a finalist in this year’s most prestigious art prizes in Australia, The Archibald Prize. The award being the oldest prize in Australia, gives an award each year to the best portrait painting, preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics.
There are 41 artists who’s portraits have made it in this year and a majority of them are Victorians. Michael, along with fellow artists like Natasha Bieniek, Juan Ford, Vincent Fantauzzo, and Luke Cornish just to name are few will be heading up to Sydney at the end of March for the announcement of the 2012 Archibald Prize Winner.
The Archibald is an non-acquisitive prize of $75,000.
‘The painting marks a shift away from the almost black and white or sepia palette I have been using for the past few years and marks a transition into a super saturated range of warm reds and oranges,’ says Michael Peck.
‘This new palette shifts the time frame, drawing on the aesthetic of Polaroid photographs from my childhood in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The warm orange glow is the colour by which I remember my childhood in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, where my brothers and I would play war games in our neighbours’ yards. Inspired by films, we would dress up in army surplus gear and paint our faces. We’d dig bunkers, make guns from old timber scraps and run around pretending to be heroes. Now that I am in my 30s I notice the ways in which my own children play similar games and I wonder why children can be so fascinated by war.
Born in Melbourne in 1977, Peck has a Bachelor of Fine Art (honours) (Painting) from Monash University. He has exhibited as a solo artist since 1998 in Melbourne and Sydney. His work is concerned with the sensation of disorientation and dislocation often felt in the modern world. He has been represented in a number of group shows and was a finalist in the 2010 Dobell Drawing Prize, the 2005 Metro 5 Art Award and the 2002 City of Hobart Art Prize. In 1998 he was the winner of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Trustees Award.
View all finalists at Art Gallery NSW
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