Facing the World, Self-Portrait

Painting in my free time while teaching at the American University in Athens, Greece

Newberry, Facing the World, acrylic, 1998
Newberry, Facing the World, acrylic, 1998

I painted this self-portrait smack in the middle of an aggressive outreach period in 1998. I was working on a series of my biggest paintings, Synergy and God. And I showed them internationally along with hundreds of pastel, pencil, and charcoal studies

“Visions” November-Athens College, Athens, Greece
August-Ministry of Greek Culture, Rhodes, Greece
July-institute for Objectivist Studies, Summer Seminar, Boulder, Colorado.

I bartered with these institutions either teaching or lecturing in exchange for an exhibition. I nice win/win, as they had little to no expenses on either side. In Boulder I had some help unpacking the art; the 84″ high paintings were rolled up, face side out, in large plumbing tubes. While unrolling and revealing one of the paintings on the gallery floor, one of the helpers burst into tears. Instead of feeling surprised by the reaction it felt very natural to me, as if this is what making and sharing art is all about.

I have an odd emotional world, the most sublime moments feel natural to me, like swimming in a Greek cove, and everything else feels a little surreal and something to move or work through. Perhaps it is because I spent 7 years working on the two paintings below with their intense themes, being something I lived with each minute of the day and night.

These are diptych, 84 x 138″. Synergy: Earth, Light, and Water and God Releasing Stars into the Universe from the Bliss Series, oil on Belgian linen, 84 x 66 inches.

All the effort to transport and show these paintings internationally was a bittersweet experience. I felt they were, and still do, some of the best, most original work of the 20th century. But I was looking at art from a perspective of evolution, and how a “synergy” of light, forms, color theory and content helps to advance our humanity. Not, from the grunge perspective of postmodern aesthetics. The two systems, evolutionary art and postmodern art, are not compatible, indeed the latter is nihilistic. I feel so sorry for all the artists and collectors trapped by it. Walk away, they are injecting poison into their system.

I am very happy to discover Aristotle’s Eudaemonia, it is an ethical aesthetic stance towards living. You hold the ideal and strive towards it, but along the way you may face hardships beyond your control; like slavery, being malformed, or tragedies like war. Postmodernism is a movement in which everyone involved has gone insane and think that secular Hell is the standard to strive for. In someways much worse than war or slavery, because the victims voluntarily adopted renunciation of values. Miscalculating that it is idealism and not what it really is, the destruction of their hearts, minds, and senses. I hear a funeral dirge in the background, poor fools are so messed up they don’t even know what I am talking about.

I am glad that I love art so much that coming against the postmodern wall of conformity, I could maintain my passion in the absence of recognition, and trust my vision and those few wonderful people that love my work.

Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 8/28/2020

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