Look what the postman brought us today...
COBALT AIR, a Cypriot airline based in Larnaca, is currently featuring Art by Theo Michael in their Inflight Magazine and we have just received a copy of the article through the post.
Next time you are flying with COBALT look out for the feature on Art by Theo Michael titled Larnaca Through The Eyes Of An Artist in the COBALT Magazine.
Not travelling with COBALT in the near future? Read the complete article here:
His work is unique, cinematic and very personal. With the British Cypriot artist Theo Michael it is all about the story.
Characters, larger than life, find themselves in contemporary scenes of present day Larnaca; an elegant couple on a balcony overlooking the seafront promenade, a mysterious stranger treading through the rain with a bunch of roses in his hand, a man and a woman in deep conversation over looked by a stranger perhaps eavesdropping.
Characters that could be taken straight out of a movie set. Do they know each other? What are their plans, thoughts and aspirations? These are questions that arise in the viewers mind and keep the spectator returning to the canvas again and again. When asked about his subject matter Theo reflects:
‘I paint the world as I see it, or at least how I would like to see it.’
The painting The Last Dance has its own story to tell. It is the fourth and Theo’s final painting of dancers by the beach, hence the title The Last Dance. A certain ambiguity will not escape the viewer once he or she spots the knife hidden behind the male dancer’s back. If there is a dark side to this painting, who is the victim?
Is the lady in red a beautiful angel, or a sorceress, with the man dressed in white a mere pawn under her spell? Whatever story lies behind this painting? The new owner who fell in love with it was compelled before his purchase, to consult a psychiatrist’s opinion. His mind was put at rest when she interpreted the stance of both dancers as amicable and good-natured.
Theo likes to have fun with his work, painting a world how he sees it in his mind of mysterious men and beautiful women, creating characters that evoke a feeling of nostalgia and intrigue, he readily admits:
‘My paintings are less about technique or the application of the paint, it is more about the story.’
A strong influence of the classic movie theatre is evident in Theo’s paintings, in particular the Film Noir genre of the 1950’s; but it all started a long time ago when he found himself as a five year old boy in England, confronted with a new language and an unknown culture.
As a Cypriot boy arriving in London in the 1960’s he had never seen a television set, bus or train. Walking straight into a glass door of a department store was a painful early experience of his new life. It wasn’t long before Theo took inspiration from the visual media of the day, American comics, subway posters and the cinema. He was drawing early in life. It wasn’t until 45 years later in 2005, when Theo and his wife Anja moved back to Cyprus that he chose painting as a profession.
Life as an artist in Cyprus wasn’t all plain sailing. The first few years saw Theo and Anja dabbling with a gift shop, whilst offering portrait lessons on the side street next to their little shop. It all changed when Harry was looking for a new home.
Harry was the resident cat in a handsome dwelling in central Larnaca. The current tenant, a sculptor, had vacated the premises, leaving Harry the cat to his own devices.
When a desperate plea to give Harry a new home caught Theo’s and Anja’s attention, they didn’t hesitate to step in. How could they, the prize was the prospect of a beautiful and handsome house.
It was a house with high ceilings and wide open space of interconnecting rooms, the ideal place for a studio and gallery to show of the increasing body of work that Theo had created since his arrival in Cyprus. Today Theo’s gallery displays his original work, reproductions on canvas and fine art paper, as well as calendars, greeting cards and Theo’s book, aptly titled Romance Isn’t Dead.
When asked what Theo enjoys doing in his spare time, he struggles to comprehend the question. ‘I paint’ is his answer. Compelled to work every day of the week he appreciates being fortunate to have a job he loves.
‘I try to work every day. I believe about 90% of people are in the wrong job. I am fortunate, I love what I do and hopefully this shines through in my work.’
It is clear that Theo sees the world in a different light, quite literally. If there is one aspect that unites all of his paintings, it is the effect of light on his painting subject; the bright Mediterranean sunshine creating a dappled effect on a simple blue door, or the nightlight of a street lamp, creating long shadows and strong contrasts in a chosen scene. The series of door paintings are extremely popular with the tourists looking for a souvenir to take home, Theo acknowledges:
‘It is not just about the door or the colour of the door. For me it is more about capturing the warmth of the summer sunlight reflecting of it, and the cast shadows it creates.’
Early morning sunlight streams through the large windows of Theo’s studio, illuminating the artwork which adorns the walls. Peek over the artist’s shoulder and smell the turpentine as Theo mixes his colour palette to get ready for another working day.
Theo happily shares his latest painting projects and ideas with anyone who is willing to listen. If you are in the area feel free to visit, you will be greeted by Theo and Anja.
Intrigued by Theo’s stories? Read his fictional short tales that accompany Theo’s paintings in Theo’s blog Every Wall Needs A Story.
Taken from an article featured in The Cobalt Inflight Magazine January 2018