Michael Jeffery

Gut Feeling

June 29 - July 13 2013

Although Michael Jeffery maintains a philosophical connection with wilderness regions, his art translates a very different environment, one totally insulated from nature. It was a spinal injury while working with horses in outback Western Australia that determined a change of lifestyle and Jeffery's return to the city. There his less physically demanding pursuits led to the achievement of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) degree from the University of South Australia and a flourishing career in the Arts. Jeffery describes his paintings as "responses to the urban landscape and industrialised society; its business, stress and haste, energy and excitement, pollution and noise, the power it possesses and its relentless hunger for more."

Through a distillation of observed phenomena the Adelaide-based artist maps the flux and residue of city life. Slices of the industrial environment are re-contextualised using an unusual collage and photographic transfer technique to convey its jangle of sights and sounds. "My works are essentially collages of dried paint skins," explains Jeffery. "Basically, I paint onto plastic sheets and later adhere cut‐out fragments to the canvas. These skins are shaped to resemble bricks within a wall or perhaps topographic views of an urban landscape. The paint skins have allowed me to create alternative surface textures to that of traditional painting. With them I can imitate the effects of age, activity and weathering."

Along with the overlapping acrylic ‘skins', Jeffery employs a variety of mixed media to express his vision. Photographs of road signs, graffiti, torn posters and close‐up images of asphalt surfaces are subjected to a process that lifts the image from the photograph and embeds it in a gel medium. Similar in texture to the paint skins, this pliable substance allows the image to be integrated seamlessly into the picture-plane. Enamel spray paint is also applied either free‐hand in the manner of graffiti artists or stenciled, as on crates and shipping containers,

The title, Gut Feeling, alludes not only to Jeffery's response to the urban landscape and contemporary culture but to compositional decisions that are made intuitively and without premeditation. His abstract paintings demonstrate an innate understanding of the importance of pictorial organization. Jeffery's knowledge of the visual ‘weight' of different hues and his adept placement of variously sized shapes with reference to their spatial relationships conjures energy, opposition, balance and completeness.

In his visceral conjunction of process and subject, Jeffery hopes to stimulate environmental awareness. "My paintings invite the viewer to consider the impact our actions have upon the world, each other and future generations." They also offer us a way of finding beauty in the most unexpected places. From the debris of a product-based, urban existence Jeffery has created a new poetic order.

Michael Jeffery holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) 2004, from the University of South Australia, Adelaide and an Associate Diploma in Applied Science (Wildlife and Park Management) 1989, from Salisbury College of Advanced Education, Adelaide. He won the international 1st ArtCurated Prize, 2011; was a finalist in the 2006 Wynne Prize, AGNSW; was awarded First Prize in the Art East Critic's Award, Adelaide, 2004; the Chancellor's Merit List, University SA, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004; Dean's Merit List, University SA, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.


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