“A lot of stories that are written about me tend to play up the gloom and doom aspect of my work,” says San Francisco-based artist Michael Kerbow, who holds an MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. There is, undoubtedly, something dark and portentous about his drawings and paintings – unusually large clusters of cars and pigs, complex grids and curves of highways. Skyscraper after skyscraper after skyscraper with no sign of greenery. The packed and suffocating urban landscape has been probably designed and constructed by humankind and yet individual men and women are strangely absent from these scenes. Who runs and rules over the cities? We don’t know. Everything might as well have been orchestrated by some kind of highly evolved and sophisticated artificial intelligence.
Michael’s artworks may seem to be, in a way, depictions of our ultimate demise – but they may also be read and interpreted as portraits of our ambitions, our ever-active intellect. Michael believes that “the human imagination can find humour and beauty in the most extreme situations.” A positive energy can, at times, be found in the movement and geometry of these otherwise “dystopian” scenes.
The artists says, “My work explores the way in which we engage with our surroundings and the possible consequences our actions have upon the world in which we live. Through my work I attempt to question the rationale of our choices, and try to reveal the dichotomy that may exist between what we desire and what we manifest. Recently my work has focused upon the mechanisms that power our society and examines how they may influence the construct for a possible future.”
Michael is particularly inspired by the paintings of the 16th century artist Pieter Breugel. Other artists he admires are Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Moran, John Martin, Caspar David Friedrich and J. M. W. Turner.