Michael Cubey: Painter

From the catalogue to ‘Still Here’, London, 2012

Painting is still here, despite it having been killed off many times since the 1840s. It may indeed be Undead, in which case you would really need to make sure you had the right bullets to finish the job, or cut off the head.
But painting should acknowledge that while it is in a fitter state of health than the Bald Headed Art Men would like, it may well be irrelevant. And that can be a glorious and quite liberating place to be.

Michael Cubey's recent paintings pull elements from his own paintings from the past 25 years, and those of other painters that continue to inspire and challenge him, influences from his formative years in New Zealand alongside other painterly references.

He takes the ultimately futile, comical and irrelevant pursuit of painting seriously. He is in it for the long game, and would readily acknowledge that he is still finding his own language and voice and is continuing to work through some strong influences.

Cubey's early work was aggressively three dimensional, engaging in a love of material, shape and colour, a sort of 'expressionist formalism'.

He has gradually abandoned this abstract territory, seeing it as a dead end road, and has increasingly populated his shallow painted worlds with what are often dark shadowy figures, and painted 'signs', most notably the recurring question mark motif. This is more recently combined with grotesque, comical elements, the laughing grinning, vomiting heads.
Its a fairly ridiculous activity to be engaged in, painting. All you can do is aim high and make the very best paintings that you can…within your own terms. To quote David Thomas: "Embrace, my brothers, the utter futility of ambition and desire. Your only reward is a genuine shot at being the best. The caveat is that no one but your brothers will ever know it. That's the deal we agreed to." The question marks started off as a sign of my uncertainty venturing into figurative territory (‘What do you paint?’), and a riposte to the hopelessness and ridiculousness of artists who try and communicate or worse 'self express' through their art. The laughing heads, well they are just there watching and mocking me, you, all of us...
Michael Cubey, October 2012
What has remained constant over the years in Cubey's painting is a very physical approach to painting, using objects such as paintbrushes hanging off the painting, painting on shaped supports such as ping pong paddles or chair seats and a strong use of colour and a very evident love of paint itself. He wants his paintings to get an immediate response, but also to be layered and complex enough to warrant time in repeated viewings.

A.W Alabaster, October 2012