We have emerged from modernity into an age hungry for truth, searching for authenticity, however fragmentary. Beneath the frothing chaos of the white waters of deconstruction a quiet but consistent undercurrent of thought has persisted in the deep; Huxley called it the Perennial Philosophy, founded on the thinking of Plato and Pythagoras. The paintings and installation pieces that together complete Pearce’s body of work connect him to his delight in ancient megaliths and chambered mounds and his study of hermeticism and alchemical philosophy. The works are marked by the use of symbolism, male and female imagery and celestial references, seeking out the perennial truths that remind us of our place within the magnificence of the universe. A traveling man, he regularly returns to the West of England, where he walks the stone circles – reconnecting his work with his old inspiration.
Perfectly in harmony with the Carnegie Art Museum’s neo-classical architecture, but equally at home in contemporary culture, Michael Pearce’s dramatic oil paintings evoke a dreamlike world populated by people completely engaged in mysterious tasks. A master of glaze painting, his expansive paintings feel light and airy while convincing as windows into an alternate universe, inviting interpretation, inspiring mystical reverie and demanding attention.
While on the surface his paintings are romantic escapes from the hard edges of daily life, celebrating colorful flowers and beautiful people, there’s a mythic depth to them that reveals the artist feeling his way out of the negative deconstruction of the past by drawing upon archetypes and allegories from centuries-old emblem books and alchemical symbolism. Pearce digs for conceptual themes in the paintings that capture his audience by encouraging their individual imaginative interpretation of the events he has painted. There’s meaning here – a reconstruction of ideas bigger than ourselves – that makes these paintings feel bigger than their already large size.
Pearce has a strong background in scenography, painting and installation art. Although he has lived in California since 1990, his love for his previous homes in Wiltshire and Devon has never left him and has powerfully influenced his work. He received his BA (Hons) from Dartington College of Arts, then left England to come to the US where he was awarded a Masters in Fine Arts in Theatrical Design from the University of Southern California. In 2008 he completed a PhD at Plymouth University, England, submitting a dissertation on Neolithic British ritual art and architecture. He is chair of the Art Department at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.
Pearce Wikipedia entry
Youtube video about New Romantic Figure exhibit
Newspaper article about New Romantic Figure exhibit
Profile piece in the studio.