Michael Armitage

(Kenya, England 1984 – )

Man in the waves

Not on display
Further information

'Last year, I wanted to make a painting that was riffing off the idea of ‘the promised land’. I had thought about making two paintings, one of a man and one of a woman. Paintings by Courbet of women in waves began to interest me but I couldn’t find an image that would work for my painting. When I came to the Art Gallery of New South Wales I saw, for the first time, Ernst Kirchner’s 'Three bathers' 1913. It is such a strange painting... The figures’ bodies are subtly distorted, with a strange exotic floating flower that make the waves seem like large banana leaves. The composition is deceptively simple with the arch of the waves providing a rhythm across the painting. I had wanted to link the depiction of Utopia and the promise of young fertile women to the idea of sexual promise in a young virile man from the tropics (a slice of paradise!) and the 'Three bathers' gave me a way to do this.' - Michael Armitage

oil on Lubugo bark cloth
220.0 x 170.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated u.l. verso, blue felt tipped pen ".../ MArmitage/ 2019".

Mollie and Jim Gowing Bequest Fund and the Lawrence Hinchliffe Bequest Fund 2019
Accession number
© Michael Armitage