• Michael Rossiter’s Surreal Vision

    Date posted: August 27, 2012 Author: jolanta

    surreal vision

    “By paying close attention to delineated space and common images placed in extreme settings, Rossiter creates a new symbolic language of intimate relationships.”

    Michael Rossiter, Pathways, 2012. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.


    Michael Rossiter’s Surreal Vision

    By Rose Hobart

    Michael Rossiter’s painting style is wholly original and unique.  Painting landscapes, portraits and objects, his work is neo-surreal containing elements that are strange, quirky, surreal, dreamlike and whimsical. His work can be likened to historical masters such as Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte.  Updating these revolutionary techniques, Rossiter’s works are rendered in exquisite detail conjuring up associations to contemporary life and otherworldly visions.
    When viewing works like “What’s On the Box?”, his surreal juxtaposition is apparent. A turtle sits in a field, his hollowed contours filled with unnatural objects, including an oddly angled ice cream cone that juts out uncomfortably from the turtle’s bowels. Higher up on the turtle’s back looms a television-shaped box crafted of wood, yet presumably technological, topped by a party hat from which bare branches eerily extend. From the animal visibly overburdened by the staggering weight of consumer culture, to the grim human profile carved into a nearby stump, a manmade presence pervades the apparent naturalness of the entire scene. The bright, cheerful colors of the piece initially belie this unsettling tone, but through the purposeful juxtaposition of natural and man-made objects, the artist reveals a nature essentially transformed into mankind’s unfortunate playground.

    Michael Rossiter, What’s On The Box?, 2012. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
    A second piece, “Pathways 2,” portrays a different tone. Here, two three-dimensional boxes stacked on top of one another are undercut by flat planes intersecting at various angles. The faces of their clearly defined and colorful edges contrast with the peacefully clouded horizon. Against this pale visage, two predominant colors – the striking cut of a red pyramid intersecting the bottom left, and a sky-blue box carved into a door to nowhere perched on top, provide central focal points. Yet what immediately draws the eye is a single, light-reflecting orb hovering above the interspersed complexity below. Its circularity is echoed in a spiraled red scroll that floats serenely beneath the lower box. The interplay of shadow and light both within the floating objects and among the various boxes and planes creates an abstract vision of calming balance, complexity and simplicity, lightness and heaviness, shadow and color.

    Ultimately, the sensation that we are peering into someone’s dream world or personal subjectivity is evidenced in Rossiter’s work.  In this sense, his work has a lot to do with major thinkers like Sigmund Freud.  In the 1920’s Sigmund Freud revolutionized the study of dreams with his work The Interpretation Of Dreams. Freud began to analyze dreams in order to understand aspects of human behavior.  He believed that in civilized society, we have a tendency to hold back our natural urges and repress our impulses. Yet, these urges and impulses must be released in some way; so they often have a way of coming to the surface in disguised forms. Freud felt that our dreams were the locus of unconscious desires be them sexual, dangerous or suspenseful. Eventually, Freud came to the conclusion that the unconscious expresses itself in a symbolic language.  Symbolic meaning is at the heart of Michael’s work –  his symbols are visual puns, cues and witty juxtapositions that create images that are personal and universal.

    Michael states “a lot of the symbols are just my imagination running wild as I sketch out ideas for my paintings, some symbols and characters have stuck and I’ve used them across a number of my works as a thread.  My aim throughout most of my work is to provide a dreamlike escape to the viewer, taking them away for a moment from the seriousness in the real world and hopefully getting a smile out of them! I love to hear what other people see in my work – everyone has a different take on it.  I often try to put in things that will not be noticed at first glance and I’ve had buyers of my work contact me months later to tell me that they have just found something in the painting that they never noticed before!”  

    Michael Rossiter is a contemporary neo-surrealist whose work is at the forefront of a new avant-garde.  Surrealism originated as a literary movement that experimented with a new mode of expression called automatic writing, or automatism, both of which sought to release the unbridled imagination of the subconscious. The movement originated in Paris in 1924 with the publication of the Manifesto of Surrealism by the poet and critic André Breton.  And Rossiter’s paintings have much in common with the master Belgian surrealist painter, Rene Magritte.  

    Like Magritte, Rossiter uses witty and thought-provoking imagery to encourage viewers to question their perceptions of reality, and become hypersensitive to the world around them. By paying close attention to delineated space and common images placed in extreme settings, Rossiter creates a new symbolic language of intimate relationships.

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