Words written by Heathcote Williams, after seeing a few of Mike Englands paintings at an Exhibition at Liscous Design, Oxford
Mike England’s paintings are elusive. However, if you give them a chance they’ll tease your consciousness into a satisfying sense of harmony.
One picture may look like the outlines of banned items in an airport security X-ray; another may resemble a Welsh landscape, burgeoning with primal spongiform plants that await a dinosaur’s jaws.
In another a series of time-lapse images seem to be describing an inner dreamscape of the painter’s thoughtful psyche.
As you look from subject to subject you don’t quite know what’s what. The pictures move in and out of the figurative. Is another painting a cityscape with TV screens and warnings to jaywalkers? Or is it Mondrian’s ghost picking up his ruler and his brushes again?
“Everything is abstract”, Mike England says, gently throwing down the gauntlet to anyone who might feel challenged by his painting’s non-figurative aspect. Mike England’s paintings penetrate the inner and reflect it in the outer. It’s quantum painting in which the artist is quietly breaking new ground. He proceeds according to his own lights and his paintings reflect that illumination.
Heathcote Williams ... writer/Poet
About Mike's Painting by Lucy WadhamMike England's work reflects his belief that the more you learn the less you know. "I'm into paint", he says simply. "Painting on canvas. It's as old as the hills". Indeed, there is nothing clever about the paintings, no point of reference on which the viewer may hang concepts, and thereby feel intelligent. In place of cleverness, there is rigour and humility in the face of this ancient medium.
Mike is a filter for his environment. He works in a small studio in East London. Through his window he tracks the changing light of a big sky, he absorbs the hub and motion of urban life.
The canvasses are each a map of Mike's quest for visual harmony. They reflect the harmony in the object world; the balance and tension between colour, texture and line; between order and chaos, flux and stasis. Vertical stripes may recall the migrating bands of TV sets, those alternative windows through which we view the world. They may also remind us the inherent delay of perception, of the relationship between time and distance.
Mike's work is non-referential. It aspires to pure feeling. If we can look at the paintings as we apprehend music or gaze at the sea, or watch an electric storm, then we become accessible to them.
The floating blocks of colour, the soft yellows and blues and the vibrant reds, the successive layers of paint, create an ethereal quality, a sense of shifting motion. Mike wishes to blur the boundaries of perception. The eye floats across the canvas. It will not find a recognizable image, a focal point generating meaning. This is the vocation of advertising and Mike's work is the opposite of advertising. If advertising images are signs attached to meaning then Mike's paintings cut images off from meaning so that they may float away like balloons, freeing the mind. Lucy Wadham. (Writer)
About Mike Englands Paintings...by Jon Lane(painter)
I am drawn to the paint; swathes of colour determined by the dynamics of the surface.Structures and spaces sit somewhere between the second and third dimension, painterly episodes hang on the bones of composition.There is a sense of scale to these canvases, Even the small ones seem large, the large ones closer.
Although London (and even more specifically the square mile) is the backdrop for Michael's activity in and around his studio, I don't see any reference to a specific location.
The painter is not so much representing a city as building his own painterly form replacing bricks and steel, poetry compensating for the dull glow of urban myth, his vision generating the power that changes these surfaces. Urban form is simply a platform from which the painter can dive into his unique journey, through creativity and expression.
The paintings are about the nature of balance, rhythm and harmony, a visual event from one edge to the other; each mark a testament to the activities that overlap and intertwine on the surface and underneath it, within a painting and within an urban environment, as the viewer watches with interest. Jon Lane (Painter)
Mike England's recent paintings oscillate between harmonic fusion and conflict, between spacial illusion and surface treatment, between subject and object.Their composition is as elementary as the subject constructed on axes of both vertical and horizontal symmetry, expressed by a seductive, rock bottom vocabulary of irregular widths and intervals.
His confident use of excessive saturated brilliance of colour warming the stark uninhabited urban landscape.Awesomely simple yet awesomely complex, perpetuating the Northern Romantic landscape painting tradition of the artist responding directly to his environment andInterpreting it into paint on canvas.Michael though is not a "plein air" painter; his practice is that of a studio painter.Only his subliminal scanning of his inner cities surroundings, his notations whilst wandering the streets, his reference.Anyone who considers them selves to be a city dweller will be at home and comfortable with Michael's structural language and its metropolitan influences.
Mike Ozouf (Painter/Designer)