Michal Singer is a loner who earned respect as an artist thanks to his energy and drive. He did not get into the Academy of Fine Arts (AVU), but studied philosophy and political economy at Charles University. Above all, however, he studied at the University of Life, something he regards as more important than an academic education. He believes that painting “cannot be taught, because there is always the threat that the burden of technical routine will prevent a person from being in touch with their own soul”. He has been working freelance since 1993. He worked long and hard at perfecting his own style, creating hundreds of paintings, drawings, graphic designs and collages. The focus of his work is painting, which is in a process of continual development and characterised by a wide range of theme and style. During the 1990s, he developed a specific variant of fauvism. He used strong colours and sharp contours to depict a series of motifs from suburban life, still life, female nudes and self-portraits, which are provocative, contain a critical and self-ironic view, and often posses a symbolic side. These qualities can be found in works such as Miles’s Car, Man and Stars, The Outlaw, On the Ford, and Underground. After 2000, Singer’s work became freer in style and the sharp contours gave way to natural impasto expression. This is true of many works, e.g. Daemon I and II, Euro-Sceptic, Naked Descartes, Jungle Man, The Outlaw, The Man with the Ball of Flame, etc., in which an energetic spontaneity predominates, though not at the expense of raw authenticity. A rugged expressionism alternates with more delicate watercolours, pointillist gouache and associative drawings using Japanese fude pen. In 2006, using his “shamanic pointillism”, he created two monumental pictures called Odysseus and the Sirens and Odysseus on the Cyclades, in which he combined ancient myth, his own story and a favourite theme of his, namely pre-Socratic philosophy. The image is slightly obscured, the shapes are spread out into the smallest particles, the contours dissolve and evoke an impression of time flowing. Singer has the ability to connect apparently incompatible elements and thus maintain the viewer in a permanent tension. Around 2010 he began to assert a synthesis of dynamic painting and delicate gestural drawing in works such as The Sun of Mexico, Cleopatra in Persia, Abattoir in Turquoise, Curtain of the City of Light, Shiva, Carnival of Death, Insect, etc. He is not interested in sensually perceived reality, but the entrance into the extreme places of the human psyche. These pictures are elemental, poetic and at the same time dark. They introduce us to a world of unknown beings, phantoms, demons, gods and astral bodies. The universe merges with fragments of mundane reality, the known world and everyday activities with feelings and phenomena that are difficult to understand. Singer’s literary texts share the same ideological origin and he has written many essays, a volume of poetry entitled Shell, a series of texts called Sour Sunday and a definitive theatre play entitled Two People Living in the City of Light.
text: Vilma Hubáčková