About Michael Mew
Michael Mew's paintings are a continuation of his ongoing study into identity. Starting with photo based work, it evolved into filmmaking. As a filmmaker, his short films have screened at film festivals around the world. His new body of work, I am not my Beard, focuses on perceived forms of masculinity, awhile using abstraction to communicate the complexities of identity. As a person who can not grow a beard, Mew has always been fascinated by the representation of masculinity through facial hair. For many, the first coming of facial hair is symbolic of a boy coming into manhood. For those who can not grow these facial adornments, there is a question of inclusion within a tribe of masculinity. Even for those who choose to be clean shaven, they share a morning ritual of renewal, very aware of what image they choose to present. In today's society where social media plays an increasing roll in people's lives, more and more become increasingly aware of their own public representations. The choice of what photo to upload to their multiple online profiles have made each person their own publicists. Mew questions whether social media has polluted our true identities as we trudge through the frontier of persona versus self. Mew's canvases are square. The figures face forward, often without expression, as in official government issued identification. They inhabit an environment reminiscent of social media sites and urban landscapes of glass towers, one window amongst many. Though their expressions try not to give much away, their complexities still remain through juxtapositions of colour and form. Their beards and musculature present a hyper masculine ideal, at time contrasted by colours often associated with femininity. Mew's paintings present a male persona, that struggles between constraint and impulse and questions inherent and perceive traits of masculinity.