Michael Roque Collins: Transmissions of Light

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Michael Roque Collins Transmissions of Light November 5 - December 11

Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | 505.988.3250 www.lewallengalleries.com | contact@lewallengalleries.com cover: The Apparition (detail), 2020-21, Oil on linen, 50" x 40"

Michael Roque Collins | Transmissions of Light ART OF THE INDETERMINATE At once it struck me what quality of… achievement that is [when one] is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. John Keats, 19th Century English Poet

One of the most vivid strands in Modernist literature, music and the visual arts has been a realm resonating with the human condition itself: one that is characterized by the mysterious, the unresolved, the inconclusive, and the indeterminate. Life is full of ambiguity, vaguary, and the uncertain. In his most recent body of new work, Michael Roque Collins demonstrates his breathtaking facility to channel this dimension of life and turn the ambiguous into the visually engaging and transcendent. Art of the indeterminate: where aspects of a work can seem unresolved, perplexing, often left to chance of viewer perception, and where elements can appear exotic or frustrating, provocative and fascinating. Examples of artists whose work swirl together unpredictable hints of the familiar with perplexities of the unaccustomed include writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Faulkner, D. H. Lawrence; poets including Arthur Rimbaud, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery; musicians such as John Cage, Arnold Schönberg, Pierre Boulez, Morton Feldman; visual artists such as the Dadaists, Picasso, Surrealists, and many others in each category. These virtuosos of various art forms depart from conventional modes of representation and understanding in order to use uncertainty and ambiguity as a creative force to ignite interest and imagination. These are artists who can, through their art, make it a delight to be, as Keats put it, “in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts.” The absence of any anchoring in external reality, accustomed harmonies, or the grammatically familiar, frees their work – and correspondingly the viewer’s imagination – to exist in a supercharged realm of imaginative essence. As with the art of Collins, these creatives do not totally abandon forms of the world but they incite curiosity through resistance to the conventional, linear, or easy associations in what it is they are expressing. Inherent to the success of art of the indeterminate is the ability to provide in the work only the trace of that which is forever absent. In that mystery the adventure unfolds: a quest never quite attained for a place beyond the heavens, a place of wonder and delight where curious minds meet the indeterminate, where transcendence is possible. 2

Often, perhaps to our surprise, these indeterminate creations can provide for their audiences an experience of profound delight. So it is for the paintings of Michael Collins whose work has long found much of its exquisite appeal in varying degrees of the indeterminate. In this new group of paintings, that indeterminacy coheres with masterful technical execution to assume new levels of sublime resplendence. In the words of Collins, “Over the past forty years, my art has been evolving through ambiguous associations. The resulting paintings welcome one to imagine tidal influences where currents of the poetic bring to the shore urgencies of thought.” In this description – itself poetic and cryptic – Collins alludes to effects of these new paintings that feature indeterminate spaces of rippling water, enigmatic references to classical architecture and statuary fragments, and dreamlike vistas of vaguely familiar places. The confusions that might initially accompany any art of the indeterminate are actually often adjuncts to its allure. They inspire wonder which is the great gift of imagination and depth of feeling. The vastness of possibility upon entering into deep contemplation of a Collins painting is breathtaking. The idea of intended meaning dissolves blissfully into the enticing prospect of purposeful ambiguity. The possibility for endless new insights lurks within the labyrinths of mystery that comprise major works in this exhibition like Primitive Canyon II or Lifeline II. Discomfiting uncertainty becomes the beginning of new discovery in works like Classical Tide, Temple of Virtues, or Bridge Over Fear II. Collins discusses this new body of paintings and suggests the following: Cyclical patterns of destruction and creation, as well as whirlpools of compression and expansion hold new meanings that may be located in a symbiotic realm where the viewer is encouraged to find additional meaning from the energy held in each work. The Transmissions of Light Series brings forth the healing power of illumination through at least two portals of metaphoric structures. One such portal must be seen in my reoccurring interest in the heroic landscape, epic in scale and filled with elements of the sacred and mythological: landscapes through which dream inspiration represents an imagined realm where the viewer is able to engage sweeping vistas with a variety of subtle associations. Another portal is seen through the incorporation of large scale classical architectural structures. The structures convey a sense of power and order, though ultimately their represented states are overgrown and consumed by a vision of a reclaiming verdant nature.

For artists of the indeterminate, answering the question, “What does this work mean?” is largely a futility. Work of this sort is innately work of “undecidability;” perplexing and even inscrutable, enigmatic and ultimately exciting. It seems impossible to arrive at a fixed meaning within works of this nature, irrespective of medium. Although ambiguity is left to reign – where the objects resist certainty of understanding and that ambiguity is left to nurture the aesthetic freedom evident in the work – there is 3

Michael Roque Collins | Transmissions of Light (continued) still a strong sense of integrity in the way in which the paintings are executed with all elements reflecting Collins’ means for refining the profound and suggesting the sublime. The lack of clear resolution of subject matter, syntax, or harmonic rhythms in art of the indeterminate correlates with its power to ignite wonder and imaginative thought. Herein lies the capacity of the indeterminate to transport the viewer away from the ordinary to a place of transcendence. Herein the enigmatic becomes a thing of beauty. In the new works by Collins, there is an arresting bifurcation of an aesthetic. On one level the work is mysterious, just as much of this extraordinary painter’s works are. But on a second level, the paintings emanate remarkable elegance. The beauty of these works resists specific identification but emerges more generally from the indeterminacy of its imagery, material and artistry. To the extent the works embody narrative at all, it is, in each case, speculative and secondary to the exotically nebulose. Detached as they are from any requirement to describe the “real” world, Collins’ works are free to emanate faint connections that express the depths of the artist’s fecund inner world. In so doing, they engulf the viewer in an explosion of fluid energies that echo the vital life forces which fuel his art. An aspect of Collins’ use of the indeterminacy is the sense of timelessness that emerges. Although many of the paintings feature some reference to classical sculpture or architecture, even these are incidental to the larger aura of mystery that obviates any need to classify the work in such specific terms. These works will be as intriguing a hundred years from now as they are today. Their emotional durability resides today – and will then – in the transfiguration of object and subject into pure feeling. Collins takes the forceful materiality of his paint, his planes of color, the vague familiarity of his imagery, and the mystery of meaning, and confers, via exquisite indirection, an intuitive sense of the divine. As is generally the case with Collins’ paintings, what you see is not all there is. Scenes yield significance beyond the symbolic. As Collins notes, “elements in my paintings connect with both cultural and personal mythologies. Memory, mystery and a sense of morphic resonance in my resulting paintings are additionally amplified by darkness giving way to the illuminate. Cyclical patterns of destruction and creation [and] the heroic landscape epic in scale are filled with elements of the sacred and mythological.” For example, in the major painting entitled Venetian Flower Walls, there is a powerful example of the ambiguity and enigmatic that animates Collins’ work. Here there are associations with Venice, a city over 1,200 years old, with buildings whose forms have become iconic in cultural history, a mystical city that 4

is comprised of more than a hundred small islands. It exists in vast waters that confer a sense of quiet isolation and a nearly sacred beauty. What then is the significance of the two flanking flower walls? They are adorned with marks that bespeak the passage of time and fragments of imagery that suggest a human presence left behind, now covered with stands of flowers, perhaps alluding to new life in the midst of dystopian change. But ultimately, we don’t really know what the artists’ intention is with this painting other than his statement that “These are dreamt forms which appear to be flooded by the approaching water of the Giudecca Canal that related to the majesty and ruin one finds in this watery world. [The image engenders] the same energy that inspired Ezra Pound’s cantos and the allusive writings of Joseph Brodsky’s Watermarks.” We are left to wonder and in the wonderment our imaginations can run wild. These paintings by Collins – his masterful art of the indeterminate – offer entry into a kind of mystical realm. They dissolve, for a least a moment, the subjugations of the purely rational mind and its enslavement to preconceptions and expectations. Their ability to offer this transcendence lies in their evocative ambiguity. Their animating force is their delicious uncertainty. They enable a pure consciousness, and, as Keats would have it, a “being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” What joy! Kenneth R. Marvel

Venetian Flower Wall, 2020-21 Watercolor and ink on linen, 10" x 13" 5


Classical Tide, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 30" x 80" 7

Garden of Vestal Virgins, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 50" x 40" 8

Torso Fragment, 2020-21 Oil on paper on board, 22" x 30" 9

Primitive Canyon II, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 48" x 48" 10

Primitive Canyon Study, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 16" x 20" 11

Classical Oasis, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 60" x 50" 12

Bridge Over Fear II, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 60" x 50" 13

Blue Lake, 2020-21 Oil on canvas on board, 26" x 28" 14

Lifeline II, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 60" x 66" 15


Jade Gabriel, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 96.5" x 144" 17

Male Head Fragment, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 18" x 15" Female Head Fragment, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 18" x 15" 18

Greek Fragment, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 18" x 15" Helios, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 18" x 15" 19


In the Valley of Broken Wings, 2020-21 Oil on paper on board, 30" x 40.75" 21

White Bird, 2020-21 Oil on canvas on board, 29" x 26.5" 22

Temple of Virtues, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 60" x 72" 23

Red Valley, 2020-21 Oil on canvas on board, 27" x 28.25" 24

Fallen Forest, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 25.5" x 28" 25


Venetian Flower Walls, 2020-21 Oil on linen, 60" x 100" 27

Soul's Dancing, 2007-21 Mixed media on black & white photograph, 40" x 30" 28

After the Burning, 2020-21 Mixed media on black & white photograph, 32" x 42" 29

Temples of Virtues, 2020-21 Charcoal on paper, 10.5" x 14" 30

Michael Roque Collins Born: Houston, Texas, 1955

2011 Education: 1998 Southern Methodist University, 2010 Dallas, TX, MFA 1984 University of Houston, Houston, 2009

Tides of Memory, LewAllen Galleries at the Railyard Santa Fe, NM Shadowlands, Richard Gallery, Berlin, Germany. From Ruins to Resurrection,

TX, Post Baccalaureate Studies 1978 University of Houston, Houston, TX, BFA 1963-73 Lowell Collins School of Art, Houston, TX 1960 Museum of Fine Arts Art School, Houston, TX

LewAllen Galleries at the Railyard, Santa Fe, NM UAC Gallery (curated by Jim Edwards), HBU, Houston, TX Sojourn In the Shadowlands, G Gallery, Houston, TX Sacred Landscapes, Felipe Cossio del Pomar Cultural Center, San Isidro, Lima, Peru Sojourn in the Shadowlands, Munchskirche Museum, Salzweddel, Germany Memory Gardens, LewAllen Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM Gerald Peters Galleries, Dallas, TX Ritual of Memory, G Gallery, Houston TX Solo Survey, Montgomery College Art Center Forum Rituals, Corpus Christi Art Center, Corpus Christi, TX Recent Works of Michael Roque Collins, Bacardi Museum, Santiago, Cuba A Ritual of Memory, LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM Tropological Landscapes, Ellen Noel Art Museum, Odessa, TX Gardens of Mystery, Gallery 101 in conjunction with Red Bud Gallery, Houston, TX 31

Selected Solo Exhibitions: 2021 LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2019 Reliquaries, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2017 Inland Mountain Journey, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM Tides of Memory, McMurray University, Abilene, TX Salon Prive, Preview of The Inland Mountain Journey Series, Presented by LewAllen Galleries at Saint Street Studio, Houston, TX 2016 Works on Paper, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2015 The Venetian Series, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM Salon Prive, Preview of The Venetian Series, presented by LewAllen Galleries at Saint Street Studio, Houston, TX 2013 Beyond Earth’s Rhythm, LewAllen Galleries at the Railyard, Santa Fe, NM

2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003

2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1991 1990 1989 1987

Retrospective solo exhibition, University of Saint Thomas Gallery, Houston, TX Michael Roque Collins, Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, TX Gardens of Terrible Beauty, Virginia Miller Gallery, Coral Gables, FL Brookhaven College, Dallas, TX Lowell Collins Gallery, Houston, TX Sacred & Profane Spaces, Virginia Miller Gallery, Coral Gables, FL McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX C. G. Jung Center, Houston, TX McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX Framboyan Gallery, New Orleans, LA McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX C. G. Jung Center, Houston, TX Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Inc., Houston, TX

Selected Public Collections: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX Odgen Museum, New Orleans, LA Ellen Noel Museum, Odessa TX St. Thomas University, Jones Hall Gallery, Houston, TX Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL Lowe Museum of Art, Miami, FL San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX Museum of the Southwest, Midland, TX Strake Jesuit Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX

Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | 505.988.3250 www.lewallengalleries.com | contact@lewallengalleries.com © 2021 LewAllen Contemporary, LLC 32 Artwork © Michael Roque Collins