Margaret Montgomery: Bio & Statement.
About The Artist:
Margaret Montgomery is a New York City based artist. She works primarily from life, in a representational mode. (Although, she sometimes uses photos she has taken as source material.) Most of her work is done in studio, but she also does many cityscapes/landscapes en plein air. And, the influence of living in a big, and often impersonal place can be seen in Montgomery's approach to her subject matter; even her still lifes project a psychological distance----a sense of anonymity-----even while drawing the viewer in.
Some Thoughts On My Art:
My main artistic concern is with the surface appearance of reality. And, for the most part, I am a Realist----I believe everything is contextually dependent. That is to say, everything is determined by its environment (context). I try to suggest my philosophical bent in my artwork. I do that, in part, through my matter of fact painting style, but mainly, I express it through my emphasis on the composition as a whole: No single object is allowed to dominate the paintings; instead the placement and spatial relationship between them is given precedence: That is true, regardless of whether the subject matter is a landscape/cityscape or a still life.
Although I am primarily a Realist painter, some of my artworks contain elements of the fantastical: Pheasants and plastic food containers; spiders and a disembodied Buddha head; crustaceans and alarm clocks. I consider these paintings to fall under the rubric "Magic Realism." Magic Realism is a literary and artistic genre in which realistic subject matter or narrative is portrayed in a naturalistic way in combination with fantastical elements in order to explore the dichotomy between the rational and irrational aspects of life as it is experienced by individuals. (Life is always subject to chance, to the accidental!) This may sound somewhat like Surrealism, but the emphasis is on material objects instead of subconscious or dream images that defy the laws of physics: My forays into Magic Realism are, therefore, not philosophically inconsistent with Realism.
All of my paintings are carefully staged; a certain amount of thought goes into deciding which elements should be included in my compositions, and where they should be placed in relation to each other. Yet, I intentionally avoid making them look that way. Instead, I try to convey a certain arbitrary, non-idealistic quality. I also juxtapose items that are not necessarily related as a comment on life's seemingly chaotic aspect. (Regardless of one's best efforts, the ability to fully control circumstances is always beyond reach!)
The main challenge for a representational painter is to translate the three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface. The way I approach that problem is by emphasizing spatial relationships----regardless of whether the subject is a landscape, still life or figure. The relation of form to form is what gives a painting structure. And, that in turn, provides the context for the subject matter: The forms do not exist independently, only in the context of their relationship to other forms. The result is paintings that have been deliberately constructed, creating a powerful sense of the physical world.
While my primary objective is to create a dynamic composition that is visually arresting, the addition of narrative elements can make for a more interesting, multi-layered work of art. It is with that in mind, that I choose my subject matter. Often opting for that which can be interpreted as symbol or metaphor. In some of my still lifes, for example, the juxtaposition of arachnids or crustaceans (both of which have been around for millions of years) with manmade objects is meant to suggest the relative brevity of human existence, but the enormity of our impact on the environment!
I realize the above might strike some people as unnecessarily gimmicky; but since it is impossible to altogether avoid the possibility of narrative interpretation when art is representational, I want to pick my subject matter with that in mind: Even things as commonplace as fruit trees come laden with cultural significance. And, I want to control the narrative!
It is my hope that my paintings have an impact on the way the viewer perceives physical phenomena. Painting is a re-imagining of physical reality after all; therefore, the success of any work of art can be measured by the extent to which it influences the viewer's perceptions of reality.