"Looking back at my days as an undergraduate studying drawing and painting, I’m struck by the fact that there were so many contradictions in what I learned. Most of my instructors came of age in the 1950s with their feet planted firmly in the school of Abstract Expressionism, where the surface of the work was the only true reality and any attempt at narrative or depiction seemed a hopelessly outmoded form of expression. Yet concurrently, I was drawing from the figure nearly every day, attempting to master the very time-honored tradition they had forsworn. If this curriculum confused many students, I was certainly one of the bewildered. That mixed message I received always disturbed me and I suppose my work since then has been an attempt at reconciling two opposing philosophies.
I found what I hoped to be an answer many years ago with pure light. It lent itself readily to abstraction yet allowed me to explore the realism with which I was always so comfortable. So I painted pure sunlight, at first streaming into my apartment, creating arbitrary geometric forms that I could render within a very naturalistic framework. I loved the play of representation versus abstraction within the same painting, for it allowed me a foot in both art historical camps. Soon, by chance, objects began to creep into my empty room compositions. I reveled in discovering and depicting their textures with oil paint, as much as any student of the still life. But I always tried to follow a self-imposed rule: would my painting still make an interesting abstraction if devoid of anything recognizable?
It’s been many years since those confused student days, and the memory all of that youthful angst merely brings a smile now. There have been a lot of paintings in between, yet with each one I still learn something new. Most importantly, I’ve learned that life itself, not just art, is all about duality and contradiction. Sensuality and spirituality, thinking and feeling, light and dark, transitory and timeless: these are the opposite poles that inform our existence. A flower fades in the late afternoon light. Even the sun that illuminates the tableau will one day die. Yet paradoxically, this moment, this one miraculous confluence of events brings together something so simple and beautiful that it seems timeless."
- Michael Zigmond