Michael Azgour is an artist, curator, and educator whose work addresses the impact of digital imagery on contemporary culture. Working between San Francisco and Krakow, Poland, his paintings combine evocative, expressive representation with geometric abstraction, reflecting upon memory, technology, and the human condition. Azgour’s award-winning paintings have been exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States and Europe, including solo shows at the Art Museum of Los Gatos, CA and Hohmann Fine Art in Palm Desert, CA, as well as Art Fairs such as artMRKT San Francisco and Los Angeles Art Show. His work is part of dozens of collections, including a recent commission by Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He recently spoke about his work at TEDx Krakow. Michael is a part-time faculty member at Stanford University.
“Azgour’s works are expressive and geometric abstractions informed by an involved process that combines a strategic, realistic technique with pattern and repetition and the muse of accidental surprise. His figures seemingly float with one foot firmly planted in the present while the other wafts into the past. Paint becomes pixel, blur or distortion mirroring the disconnected snapshots and video clips that that populate our social media profiles. He challenges the viewer’s interpretation by combining unrelated imagery in the same composition. Although the disparate visuals and juxtaposed compositions appear random, they are in fact bits of narrative from the artist’s own life and travels.” –Kimberly Nichols
Michael teaches drawing and painting courses at Stanford University. His teaching experience has included a wide array of subject matter, primarily in fine arts, but also in graphic design, architecture, professional practice, and history of art & design.
TEDx Krakow talk: “Capturing change: how unfinished artworks invite active viewers” by Michael Azgour
From the art studio of Michael Azgour, this stop motion video captures the creation of a painting from start to finish. The art piece, entitled ‘Man Walking’ was completed in 2015.
Music by Kevin MacLeod. Special thanks to Boris Suvorov.
My paintings are inspired by contemporary imagery and aspects of memory, personal identity, and change. Having spent several years living in Eastern Europe, I regularly look to my paintings to address cultural disparities by fusing ideas and imagery from diverse sources. Although we live in a globalized world in which so much is standardized, the customs and values differ immensely from one country to the next. I juxtapose seemingly unrelated elements as a way to exemplify these differences using paint as a form of metaphor or hyperbole. Dichotomies are frequently employed as a way to highlight distinctions. Light emerges from the darkness, the crude becomes delicate, and the abstract becomes real.
In my recent works, I refer to moments on the verge of change. While these could be literal moments captured by a photograph, there are elements of symbolism in which the moment embodies a larger span of time and meaning. Paintings which are inspired by video are often depicted as multiple iterations of a single figure with repetitious horizontal shapes and expressive paint application in order to suggest movement and reference the passage of time and ambiguity of memory. I aim to create works which are rich in content yet open to interpretation, so each viewer might have a unique experience of their own.
We are in the midst of a miscommunication revolution. Although we have the tools necessary, there’s often too much noise for effective conversation. Information and imagery are often viewed quickly and deprived of context, appearing as a sequence of discordant snapshots fired at us from every angle of our daily lives. I reference this phenomenon and its impact on our perception of reality by distorting relationships of people and environmental features in terms of scale, style, and subject matter. I am interested in the visual language that speaks to our current situation as a form of communication in itself.
Although I aim to strike a different chord in each painting, there are some common themes that run through the breadth of my work, such as: references to digital photography and video, representation of memories as fleeting recollections, and the notion of individualism. My process of composing works and layering paint while retaining the history calls attention to the divergent paths painting and photography have taken in the past century and allows the viewer to access the process. By visualizing the formation of the piece and providing one’s own meaning, the viewer’s engagement is an essential part of each painting and their interaction brings the work to completion.