I’ve always been fascinated with the figure beautifully rendered and by pattern and decoration. In my new work, I focus on these two interests: my figure studies are given a context within the designs found in erotic Japanese “Shunga” prints, Persian miniatures and the pattern traditions of Eastern Art: realism and pattern/Eastern and Western aesthetics.
The history of art can be seen as an attempt to balance these two intentions: to create the illusion of three dimensions, or focus more on an interpretive, abstract quality, thereby enhancing pattern and decoration. This reflects the contrast between a literal and symbolic view of the world—confirming what we perceive—contrasted with what we feel about what we perceive.
When you include a narrative, the dynamic becomes even greater. What is the meaning of what we’re doing, how does it look, and what pattern does it create? If we relax the need to separate what is real from what is imagined it becomes simply a relationship, and thus gains power. Those relationships are the potentialities from which we construct our culture, our sense of self, and our identity. Time and space are in play, and “play” is the operative word for what I’m doing.
Michael Bergt has worked primarily in egg tempera for over thirty years. He co-founded The Society of Tempera Painters and served as the organization’s president for twelve years. Working primarily with the human figure, Michael’s paintings refer to a range of interests, including classical myths, sensuality, the human condition, and topical events. He is represented by Nuart Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.