Mike Childs


My painting has grown from a long period of activity in and out the studio developing work through drawing and photographing cities where I have lived: Toronto and New York. Over the years this practice has developed into the use of a mainly “abstract” language in my painting. It includes visual signs and symbols that allude to a particular set of architectural patterns, symbols, and structural logic.  Just as important as these is the use of color that I think of as representing an urban mode of life with places and people.

In my work there has always been a referencing to a kind of structural organization and a fascination with the half built - often found at construction or demolition sites. In other words, I like to look at the painting as an idea which is either on its way to being finalized or on its way to being halfway destroyed. In the new works patterning is often now coupled with an organic countering to the notion of the “built”. Large monochromatic, non-linear spaces which I'm introducing seem to overtake isolated islands of the more rational line-based sections.
I look at abstraction as a problem to be both embraced and upturned in pursuit of a kind of reckoning with the idea of the contemporary painted image. This viewpoint creates tension between the abstract signs and what I’m introducing into the painting as pictorial events. These pictorial “happenings” on a purely emotional level dislocate the strictly “non representational” reading and point towards, if not a more objectively seen “reality”, then at least fragments of color and light that are used to suggest a moment of pictorial representation set within the image.
It is with this marriage of opposites inside the paintings that I have begun to consider the works as part of a larger world of images. This is a world in which the painted image must somehow exist to be probed and prodded by both the viewer and maker alike for possible emotions and meanings. The human position as it relates to this mediated, constantly developing urban environment is of main concern within my life and work. An examination of our culturally dictated perspective through image-making at the very least carves out a space or perhaps oasis to sit quietly within.