Cinematic Artwork

Where mediums intersect there is often a blur. A blur of fine lines and artistry that doesn’t truly belong to one medium or the other. Cinema and painting hold their own respective places in artistic history and yet they share many of the same objectives, leaving their boundaries ambiguous and open to interpretation. 

Painting, for example, is a medium that has been around for thousands of years, while Cinema is relatively new, mainly in existence from the 20th century onwards. And, yet while paintings have inspired cinema, with their composition and drama, and influence on the framing of the moving image, likewise, movies have come to inspire paintings, such is the predominance of their influence on visual art.

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, a mural by Theo Michael

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, a mural by Theo Michael

Theo’s great inspiration, the American realist painter Edward Hopper, is a case in point. Hopper's famous painting Nighthawks has often been referred to as cinematic.
Which influence came first? Does it even matter? These are two mediums intersecting and influencing each other creating wonderful moments for viewers to enjoy.

  • Theo's affection for the cinematic medium has played a significant role in his craft.

    These are the imagery he grew up with, watching Hollywood movies from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, featuring Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, and a host of other stars. Form is an immutable concept, but it is a lesson that applies in both the moving image and the still image. The romantic imagery of a film noir sequence can last a lifetime, but so can a still painting, where what is left unsaid in a single moment can often create as much drama as an action movie with a host of explosions, gunfire and chases.

Glimpse Into The Past

  • cinematic painting by Theo Michael titled A Glimpse Into The Past featuring Larnaca seafront from around 1950

    Glimpse Into The Past embodies this synergy literally

    with a beautiful woman wearing a red dress in an auditorium while a movie plays celebrating a small town. The movie looks like an illustrious painting, such is the sheer degree of detail and perspective. A group of men are gathered in the corner of the screen and others are wandering by sets of tables and chairs. It
    seems as though there is some kind of commotion on the screen and the auditorium is otherwise empty signifying, perhaps, that the movie is just beginning.

    In this painting the colour elements represent the present, and the black and white elements represents the past.
    Painting and cinema go hand in hand here, where most of the same rules and concepts apply. Going to movies in this instance is like looking at a painting only the moving image is in our minds, and not on the screen or canvas.
    Glimpse Into The Past painting by Theo Michael January 2014

Pianist On The Roof

  • Cinematic oil painting of the New York Skyline by Theo Michael with a female pianist in the foreground

    The painting Pianist On The Roof by contrast is cinematic metaphorically.

    A woman is gliding around a grand piano reaching out a hand to tap on the keys and play some small melody that she might know. If we listen carefully we can hear the tapping of the keys and their reverberation. The woman wears an elegantly beautiful backless red dress. The balcony view is a sublime cityscape of the New York skyline. Skyscrapers light up the sky just like they might do in a movie scene. We wonder if the woman is also singing to herself as she plays on the piano. Is she at a dinner party wandering through the building, or visiting a handsome suitor, or is this her own abode? These questions are all left unanswered.

    Pianist On The Roof, oil painting by Theo Michael June 2017

The Artist And His Model

  • cinematic oil painting, The Artist And His Model by Theo Michael features a couple in a deserted landscape with only their car and a wind turbine in sight

    The painting The Artist And His Model isn't just cinematic.

    It is almost an entire movie. The painter carries his easel as the car is parked by a wind turbine. Here again is one of Theo’s signature motif’s of contrasting modernity with classical imagery. There is a classic car sitting on the side of a hill, lurking behind a wind turbine. Does the car belong to a stranger, or the couple in the foreground?
    Once again a woman wears a striking red dress carrying a shawl on her back. The sky is lit up by moonlight and the patterns of the heavens at night are one of the most striking aspects of this particular painting.

    The Artist And His Model, oil painting by Theo Michael June 2014

The E-Type

  • oil painting The E Type Jaguar by Theo Michael, featuring a jaguar at a petrol station with cinematic views across the Mediterranean sea

    The painting The E Type Jaguar captures the sleek and magnificent machine in its signature red.

    The jaguar is parked by a small petrol station. An elegantly dressed tall and handsome man leans beside the car with a pair of binoculars. What he is looking at is left to our imagination. Is he scouting a location as part of some task he has been set as a dastardly spy? Is he merely trying to ascertain his next move on his journey, surveying the route ahead?
    The sign on the pump reads Fast Service. Is this a metaphor for the man and his car?
    The ocean is magnificent in the background and if we look closely we can see a boat liner in the distance. This is always a strong memory of anyone who has spent time by the beach, of the large boats that slowly sail in the distance from morning to night.

    The E-Type, oil painting by Theo Michael 2017.

The Reporter

  • cinematic oil painting by Theo Michael titled The Reporter, featuring a group of men caught in a heavy downpour sheltering under their umbrellas with their camera equipment

    The painting The Reporter shimmers in its cinematic glory,

    almost creating the sense of it being an imperfect frame of film as much as it is a painting.

    A reporter stands in the foreground while a photographer is in the background. The characters are sheltering under their umbrellas whilst the rain is pelting down and pours of their umbrellas.
    This painting is so ambiguous it leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination.

    It is one of my favourite paintings by Theo Michael and personally, I see the characters at play by the scene of some grizzly crime, taking pictures, and gathering information amongst themselves. But, it could just as easily be anything you imagine, such is the beauty of Theo’s painting and what is left unsaid.

    The Reporter, oil painting by Theo Michael May 2018

Time And Tide

  • cinematic oil painting by Theo Michael titled Time And Tide, featuring Larnaca seafront in a stormy and wintry setting

    Time And Tide is a painting of pure force and drama.

    It features two men standing on the edge of a pier sharing a moment between themselves with a plane flying overhead. The power of the moment can be felt in a cinematic way. You can almost hear the roar of the plane, or the sound of a movie soundtrack punctuating the moment. Small waves are crashing into the sand below and we wonder about what these two men are saying to each other, two private eye’s
    conversing, perhaps, on a case they are sharing information on.

    Time And Tide, oil painting by Theo Michael February 2013

Cinematic Art

Theo’s work is almost always cinematic, even though he paints mere single moments. What precedes and proceeds from his paintings is left to the imagination and this invitation to the viewer is part of the romance that is at play.
We can always watch a movie and be swept up in its story, but afterwards we are removed, inevitably, to some extent. The beauty of a painting is the way in which the viewer is as involved as the painter in the construction of the story and drama. The way in which the painting comes to life is up to you and can involve your own ideas and life experiences. The blurred lines of cinema and painting are not mutually exclusive, but opportunities for artists and viewers of art to find their voices and express themselves in exciting and innovative ways. It is in this way that Theo's work never fails to enthrall and ignite our imagination, in spite and because of the unavoidable influence of movies on our collective aesthetic.

Author Marc Michael, April 29th 2022