Michael Mew’s collages are beautiful mixed media paintings that bring vintage iconography and tropical flowers together in one composition, a wonderful confluence of sensuality and nostalgia, mechanical and organic, East and West that you can almost smell the perfume off.
Mew’s work begins in his LA origins, in the rubbish bins of suburbia and the flea markets of this multi-cultural city. After many years of collecting and digesting images and paraphernalia from disparate sources Mew began making assemblages in the tradition of Joseph Cornell his work containing birds and star charts, ornate Victorian valentines cards as well as images of war, Catholicism, science and biology.
In 1994 he turned to collage and began incorporating pop culture iconography from magazines, comics and advertising into pictures that were layered using digital print technology, rendering and paint. The result was a series of compositions that juxtaposed modern and post-modern sensibilities, low and high culture, play and critique. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
In my recent collage work I’ve synthesized the historical and personal imagery that has shaped my life as an artist.
After making and exhibiting assemblage boxes for more than a decade, I began working on two-dimensional collages in 1994. I turned to collage so that I could continue working with found images in a different medium. My layered, cumulative process of collaging, sanding, and repainting, leaves room for the kinds of intuitive material and pictorial juxtapositions that can only arise from the unconscious mind.
My new Botanical Series was inspired by antique botanical illustrations from masters of the genre who worked between the 13th to 18th centuries. In my large panels I’ve combined these flower drawings with vintage product labels from Chinese firecrackers, and from apothecary and cigarette paper packaging, syncing their typography and design to the history and character of the flowers.
Juxtaposing the pre-industrial view of nature with the logos and advertising of recent eras, I’ve paired the common and overlooked detritus of various cultures with the classically beautiful.