Michael Hawkins employs strategies of image saturation as a means of questioning the surfeit of information with which we are bombarded on a daily basis through the media. When we are given too much information to reasonably consider, how do we decide what is important and what isn’t? Where do we divide the meaningful from the inauthentic?
Hawkins is very interested in subjective art and believes that to remain truthful a drawing should not have any superfluous elements and that the reality of the physical world should be used only as a point of reference. Children in their intuitive mark-making are naturally in tune with this way of working.
The personal diary that formed the work of Hawkins’ early years has developed over time into its own aesthetic and highly personalised visual language, which is what his work is today. White space continues to be an essential component of this language; creating what the artist describes as “a purified world of infinite possibility on which all else floats. Many recurring iconographic symbols feature in Hawkins’ work including Snakes, Factories, Prison Cells, Neck-Ties, Atomic structures, Light bulbs, Crowns. Other symbols are less frequent; personalized and specific by their definition.
Hawkins is very influenced by his love of nature; growing up in New Zealand, summer as a child was spent fishing and exploring vast terrains of rivers, lakes, beaches and forests. He states “nature alone achieves perfection. Art in all its glorious forms is man’s quest to compete with the perfection that nature achieves effortlessly. Much of Hawkins’ work is based around his views on how the human race is evolving beyond nature’s interest – through computers, technology, science and genetics. He questions whether one day there will be a time when we exist only to service the machine and our lives revolve around their function and suggest that this time may be approaching.
He graduated from RMIT’s MFA program in 2013. Hawkins practice is drawing based and utilises screen printing, painting, performance and collaborative processes as a means of exploring how meaning can be generated from the visual interaction that takes place between sign and signage.
Hawkins was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1982 and now lives and works in the UK. Recent exhibitions have been in Wellington and at The Curwen Studio, Cambridge, and this summer he is doing an artist’s residency at Key West Studios in Florida.