September 2016 | Blog #1
A COLLECTOR NEVER KNOWS WHAT’S IN THE CLOSET
I am currently in the process of rehanging Gallery 1007. Well, that is not entirely true. My friend Stephen is doing not only the rehanging but also enduring the vagaries of my ever changing design esthetic. His patience is commendable; mine is not. One of the bonuses of rehanging is the discovery of art work languishing unremembered in closets. One such rediscovery was that of the brilliantly quixotic water colourist, Michael Caines.
I first encountered Michael Caines when he was working in Katherine Mulherin’s Gallery. Ms. Mulherin left her painters alone to face the onslaught of clients and the process was often terrifying. Michael was shifting through a number of drawings on brown paper. He told that he hesitated putting them out for sale as people might think the work was weird and he was weird. Well, he was both right and wrong; the work was weird but not hm. A lovely white rabbit hauls a hospital cart heaped with human skeletons while another rabbit, sporting a gas mask, is perched atop the skeletons. The possibilities for interpretation are endless and the title “Salad Days” only adds fuel to the critical fires. What speaks to me about this early work is the use of brown paper, the empty space, the perverse, deadpan wit of the artist. The rabbits, and by extension all animals, have triumphed over man. Or, may be, mankind has gassed himself or herself to extinction.
I lost track of Michael for many years but, when I found him, once again at Katherine Mulherin’s, he was definitely not alone and the place was hopping. I was stunned by the growth in Michael’s work. The colours were big and bold, the execution was technically sophisticated, and the childlike quality of the earlier drawings was replaced by a subtext which was darker and deeper. There was still a rabbit but this rabbit had claws, exuded power, and was growing out of a tree. The other trees presumably harbored other killer rabbits waiting to ambush the human outlaws. We know how this is going to end. Rabbit redux.
I have a feeling Michael Caines will be represented at Art Toronto 2016. Check him out there and on various internet websites.
What’s in your closet? Let us know at gallery1007.com.
Thanks for joining me.