Michael Kerbow, Eclectix Interview 49



Eclectix happened upon a recent exhibition of Michael Kerbow’s Topography paintings at Autobody Gallery and we were instantly hooked. Familiar geographical shapes are mutated into surreal Dali-inspired maps of oozing, butchered meat parts. The obvious connections between a meat eating culture, factory farming and environmental damages – instantly fire off in our synapses.

Michael’s art is inspired by reality, the grim issues that are hard to ignore. Toxic pollution, fossil fuels, over-population, animal cruelty – resulting in imagery that is in-your-face, with bloody consequences. His works are commentary on humanity’s evolution and the disastrous man-made upheaval to our natural world. Take a look at his portfolio and the labels alone tell the story, with names like Aberrations, Portents, Transgressions and Transmutations

Yet, his surreal visions find a bittersweet beauty within the grim. Overcrowded freeways become a beautifully woven mesmerizing design, slaughtered pigs in a pile seem to spoon and cuddle each other and heaps of dead fish flow gracefully like an Asian watercolor.

Michael works in a variety of media including painting, drawing, assemblage, and digitally-manipulated photography. 



Michael’s work at Autobody Gallery

My favorite art memory from my childhood is …

I have always enjoyed making art, but I recall a time in second grade, when I was sitting at my desk after recess. All my classmates were gathered around watching me create a drawing. Hearing their oohs and aahs and their collective admiration for my artistic skills was such a rush. I loved how my artwork could elicit such a response in others. I think this was the moment that galvanized my aspiration to grow up to become a fine artist.

Meat Map I, 1998-2010

Meat Map I

My interest in art started …

As far back as I can remember. It probably started as a baby, finger painting with my mashed peas.

I am often inspired and motivated by …

 What I see transpiring in the world around me. That could be anything from my immediate surroundings, to current global events.



If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …

 Leonardo DaVinci. He had such a wonderful creative mind and was so curious about the world.

The art technique that has helped me the most is ….

 Unless I stay on top of it, I sometimes have a tendency to overwork my drawings or paintings. This becomes a problem as it tends to make my work feel dull and lifeless. So to avoid this, I sometimes set a timer to give myself a finite window of time in which to work. This keeps me from noodling over something for too long, and the result is usually a fresher, more spontaneous looking piece of art.

Diminishing Returns

Diminishing Returns

If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …

 ”The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel (his work “The Triumph of Death” would be a close second)

My current favorite piece of my own art is … 

 This is easy. The answer would be “the next piece I am about to begin working on.” That’s what keeps me going.



My ultimate project or fantasy is …

 My fantasy project is to secure a large warehouse building/compound that could be function as studio space for myself and as many other artists as possible. I recognize how difficult it can be for artists to afford studio space, particularly in a place like the Bay Area. I see so many talented artists in this city, and yet, it is regrettable that most of them have to spend a majority of their time working at “day jobs” to support their artistic practice. I would like to create a means to support as many of these artists as I could, in order to produce a flourishing artistic community, free of the economic pressures created by living in such an expensive environment.

Fool's Paradise

Fool’s Paradise

What are you currently working on? 

I’m presently working on a series of large paintings portraying landscapes of our possible imminent future, based upon the trajectory I see our society headed. I call this series “Portents”. I suppose you could call them warnings as these paintings tend to be rather dystopic. I have great concern about the impact we are having upon our planet and how this will impact our future.

The Sad Times

The Sad Times

If you could time travel – what event, era or historical date would you like to drop in on (and why…)?

 For the shear spectacle of it all, I’d like to bear witness to the meteor impact that is said to have occurred roughly 66 million years ago, creating the Chicxulub crater off what is now the Yucatan Peninsula. (assuming the meteor didn’t annihilate me in the process)



The last song I choose to listen to was …

 ”Beware of Darkness” by George Harrison

The last book I couldn’t put down was …

 ”Seven Days in the Art World” by Sarah Thornton. An intriguing glimpse of the mechanisms within the high art world.



One of my favorite words is …  Gardyloo.

(used in Edinburgh as a warning cry when it was customary to throw slops from the windows into the streets)

 One of my favorite smells is … The air after a summer rainstorm.

I can’t live without …  Curiosity.



It’s not hip, but I really love …

 Staying in on a Saturday night.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

 I’m pretty content where I am now, in San Francisco.

Ingesta (Harvest Series)

Ingesta (Harvest Series)

If your home was on fire, what are the first three things you would rescue, if you could?

When contemplating what I would save if my home was on fire, nothing came to mind as everything seems replaceable, even family photos. So the 3 things that I would rescue would most likely be things that pertain to data; my laptop, my cellphone, and an external hard drive with all the important archived stuff.

My favorite motto (or quote) is …

 ”To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees.”

- Paul Valéry



- FIN -


LINK: To Michael’s Website


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