Michael Azgour is a contemporary artist, whose paintings address the space between perception and reality with a hand that alternates between expressive figuration and geometric abstraction. In his painting process, he peers into the reliance of imagery – such as those used in mass media, advertising, and social media – as representations of truth despite their unreliability to give factual accounts.
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 SCOPE NYC, Art Market 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. Michael has exhibited alongside a number of highly respected artists such as Joan Brown, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, and Nathan Oliveira. Azgour often speaks in artist lectures, workshops, and panels, including recently at TEDx Krakow. Michael teaches drawing and painting courses 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 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
Artist Michael Azgour talks about what interests him as a painter and takes us into his studio for a glimpse at his process. Produced by Michał Grzywacz
TEDx Talk: “Capturing change: how unfinished artworks invite active viewers” Presentation by Michael Azgour at TEDx Krakow, Manggha Museum
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.
In a world where facts are disputed, virtual experiences are convincingly real, and social media influencers sell contrived realities, I’m interested in the ambiguous space between fact and fiction. My paintings address the psychological impact of visual stimuli, the subjectivity of perceived truths, and the function of painting in a historical context.
My infatuation with painting unfolded at an unlikely time. I was studying psychology at UC San Diego and became fascinated with the mechanisms of perception, namely our ability to understand and form meaningful relationships with what we see. A very simple question became the start of a lifelong pursuit, namely how do shapes, colors, and imagery arranged on a surface direct our experience?
We live in an time where truth is manipulated to such an extent that the very nature of the word is obscured. We hold truths to be incontrovertible, but find they are at denied by multitudes of the population, who hold opposite – yet justifiable – views. I combine realistic and abstract elements in my work in order to exemplify the distinction between the real and the contrived.
Art has always been a function of the time and place of creation. As the mediums of photography and film emerged and developed over the course of the 20th century, artists responded in countless ways. In my painting process, I peer into the reliance of imagery – such as those used in mass media, advertising, and social media – as representations of truth despite their unreliability to give factual accounts.
Contemporary digital media are so lifelike and convincing that they evoke similar psychological responses as experiences with the natural world. However, by removing context, distorting imagery, and rushing the viewing process (think social media), and with the absence of a personal memory, our perceptions are based on an abstract representation of reality, creating a shallow experience. I juxtapose seemingly unrelated imagery and paint application methods as a way to exemplify the discontinuity of social interaction and distortion of truth in the face of digital culture.
In my work, transparency and masking techniques reveal multiple layers of paint and direct viewers to the abstract building blocks of the piece, illuminating the artmaking process as a subject in itself. By visualizing the formation of the piece and inserting one’s own meaning, the viewer’s engagement is an essential part of each painting which brings the work to completion.