Michael Vågsten


I am interested in a form of narrative painting, where people exist in a story and are part of a timeless dramatic setting. They are often undertaking a mysterious activity. Perhaps they are on their way somewhere, performing a task, or at a meeting. Different things are happening at the same time. Everyone seems to be walking around in a world with no order, sometimes in groups, sometimes fleeing from an unknown danger. This creates a puzzle for the observer of my paintings that I hope opens up questions.

In the surroundings there are sometimes remainders of a town or industrial area usually within in a desolate rural context, that feels anonymous. Communication is acted out by the inhabitants, but it appears ineffective creating a feeling of abandoned loneliness. The work oscillates between the comic and the tragic. It suggests meaning whilst at the same time thwarting attempts to rationalize the circumstances depicted or suggest a message.

I also have some paintings where the place becomes the subject. Some will have landscape, some in an industrial area. Inspired by my new direction towards urban post-apocalyptic landscapes.

I am interested in trying to synthesise some of the traditional values of painting with contemporary ideas. My painting is inspired by classical artists like Pieter Bruegel, Hieronymus Bosch and Gustave Courbet. I admire and aim to achieve their high level of craft, technical skills, draughtsmanship and use of colour. I am even inspired by George Grosz and contemporary artists like Neo Rauch and George Shaw. I also want the painting to be a reflection of my own contemporary anxiety about the environment associated with a post-apocalyptic vision of the future. As portrayed in films like The Road or Mad Max.

Michael Vågsten