'Vanitas Nexus Mix', Michael Stubbs

Colourful abstract painting

Oil-based mixed media on MDF, 122 x 122cm, 2006

Artist's statement

Using the now ‘established’ abstract painting technique of pouring, my paintings consist of seemingly random fluid pours of sleek, transparent varnishes and opaque household paints.

These flows, which are often repeated, are interrupted by meticulously stencilled, hard-edged graphic symbols such as skulls, dice, flames, fragments of words and second-hand decorative motifs. These contemporary logos represent both ‘high street’ signs and 17th century Dutch Vanitas still life paintings.

Literal physical depth and an implied yet disembodied opticality emerge from the build up of these flat, poured layers and symbols. The pours and the stencils pull against one another, creating a tension between the seductive surface effect (like the flattened world of the digital screen) and the histories and techniques of Abstract Expressionism and Pop art.

A cultural or historical commentary is alluded to. However, when combined with the irrational process of abstraction, a calculated agreement to disagree with the language of painting and its representation is reached. In a playfully irreverent way, painterly craft is re-staged through the processes of abstraction, graphic decoration and humour, unfolding into a heady mix of the serious and the sensual.


Michael Stubbs was born in West Sussex in 1961. He studied at West Sussex College of Art and Design Worthing 1978-79, Bath Academy of Art 1984-87 and Goldsmiths College London 1988-90 and 1999-2003. His numerous group exhibitions include Painting as a Foreign Language Centro Britanico Barzsiliero São Paulo 2002 and New Abstract Painting: Painting Abstract Now Museum Morsbroich Leverkusen Germany 2003. Solo exhibitions include Entwistle Gallery London 2002, Marella Contemporary Art Milan 2005 and Hollenbach Gallery Stuttgart 2006. He was a finalist in the Celeste Art Prize The Well Truman Brewery London 2006.