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Michele Araujo
brent grant
2011, 36" x 24", mixed media on panel


A paraphrase of a conversation with Michele about this painting:
(Having had conversations with her about her paintings before, I approached, warily).

C—Is this a landscape?


C—The horizon.

M—Oh, what do you see as a horizon?


M—The separation of red and green?


M—Well, I don’t see it that way but it’s great if you do.

Michele stakes out the extreme intuitive end of the intuitive/analytical continuum both as a painter and as an unusually generous viewer. She reproaches me for my “judgmental” approach.

Which is unfair….

…because this painting immediately, intuitively, evokes Venice, a place I have never been. On an island in the lagoon is a summer palace, a casino, where Von Aschenbach stares at Tadzio. There are other islands or mooring places and it’s full of boats and tanned pleasure seekers though none are visible at this exact moment.


All of the colors she used (except for the cadmium red medium) are very blued—it makes the red stand out in a startling way like...

Venetian glass:


The white lines frame and emphasize the surface of the painting but, instead of flattening it, they give a sense of deep space.

The white lines are tape. There are also pieces of xeroxed images stuck to the surface. A characteristic of Michele’s work is a subtly worked surface combined with ephemeral materials that represent possibilities or ideas and seem to suggest that the painting—though not unfinished—is still being worked on.

One of the disturbing elements of painting as an art form is the question of how long it is meant to last. Disturbing, because it brings up the issue of mortality for the painter—and the collector! Working with materials in an overly precious way can have the effect of quashing spontaneity for the painter and possibly be distancing for the viewer. Therefore many artists, as shown in the following quote, have adopted a casual approach:

Willem de Kooning has used salad oil and water in his paint, Jackson Pollock used ordinary house paint, and Frank Stella used metallic enamel. Other contemporary painters are using materials ranging from Day-Glo to last night's dinner, generating a need for fresh thinking and creative conservation procedures if their work is to survive at all
           --Mary K. Levenstein, Caring for Your Cherished Possessions

Another example of Michele’s work is The Dive:

  2007, 45" x 24", mixed media on wood
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