Michael Vale

The Guests

14 October – 7 November

Michael Vale is a Victorian based painter, film maker, academic and curator, with a career spanning over three decades.  Often described as ‘gothic absurdism’, Vale’s work blends rugged romantic landscapes and supernatural characters with surreal tales and dark symbolism.  Compositions become strange assemblages of mystery and intrigue, oscillating between being terrifying, comical and threatening.  Within this exhibition Vale presents a new suite of paintings that specifically responds to the horrors of colonisation that has permeated the wildernesses of Victoria and Tasmania with a lasting sense of foreboding.

“I have always been attracted to the gothic and was even fortunate enough to actually see a ghost when I was eleven.  My imagination has since been fuelled by novels and paintings that generally depicted the dark forests and towering mountain scapes of Europe.  Paintings by artists such as Arnold Böcklin and Salvator Rosa provided a template for my gothic dreams and imaginings. In more recent years, I have become more aware of the fact that convicts were sent to Australia at precisely the same time that the Gothic novel was capturing the imaginations of European readers. The horrors of colonisation have imbued the wildernesses of Victoria and Tasmania with added mysteries and foreboding and are now fused in my imagination within the gothic plane. 

I like to populate my paintings with visitors, or intruders, from other realms – comical but possibly disturbing figures that have been assembled, like Frankenstein’s monster, from an array of fragments. These fragments have been drawn from all corners of the popular domain – skeletons, clowns, ghosts, mummies, voodoo priestesses, even robots. I am excited to bring my band of visitors to Hobart.

I have titled my exhibition The Guests, because as a Victorian I am a visitor to Tasmania, yet also in another way, we are all just ‘guests’.”

EXHIBITION PREVIEW