Mundane Made Magnificent: Michael Ward Paints The Mystery Of The Ordinary.

A self-taught artist, Michael Ward captures what British-born philosopher Alan Watts called “the mystery of the ordinary” in his acrylic paintings of things we often overlook in our daily lives. Based on photographic images, his neo-realistic interpretations of unspectacular environments and people in the world around us are composed and rendered in such a way as to bring out the beauty in what one might have previously considered mundane, if not ugly.

Here are several of his paintings:



















Biography (courtesy of the artist):
I began my artistic career doing pen and ink renderings of historical architecture. I began painting in 1980, first in gouache, then in acrylics. Artists whose work I admire and draw inspiration from include Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, Richard Estes and Vermeer. I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.

Nearly all my paintings are based on photographs I have taken, primarily of Southern California scenes, over the years. Though it was never my intention to depict nostalgic scenes, many of the images I have painted have disappeared or been radically altered in the ever-changing landscape that is Southern California. Thus nostalgia is thrust upon the works. But what I am really after is bearing witness, and making people stop what they’re doing and pay attention, to something they may have never seen before, but that makes them feel “I know this.”

I am currently working on a series of house paintings. These simple, ordinary, unnoticed places have hidden interior lives, though they do not reveal them to us. The houses are from a variety of locations in the United States and Mexico. They are the place you grew up in, a place of nurture, experience, trial, memory and forgetting. They are all a common size, to symbolize our shared experience of being human.

Phyllis Lutjeans, Museum Educator and former curator, has said of my work: “Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitiude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.”

As a painter, I am self-taught.

Michael Ward Art and Design


A book of his works is available here on Blurb

See his paintings at Pasadena’s Tirage Gallery

Other galleries that represent Michael Ward:

Mesa Art
789 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949.548.3570

Studio Gallery
18001 Skypark Circle, Suite R, Irvine, CA
949.851.9181

Contact the artist directly here.

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