The artwork titled ‘As You Were’ by Michael Prettyman is a contemplative piece that combines elements of abstraction and figuration. The central figure, which is shrouded or cloaked, is rendered with a rich, earthy palette of browns, umbers, and ochres, evoking the feeling of organic material or the natural world.
The figure is depicted with a soft, almost ethereal quality, as if emerging from or merging with the background. A halo or corona of light seems to emanate from or surround the figure's head, suggesting a spiritual or otherworldly presence. This luminous effect contrasts with the darker, more grounded tones of the figure itself, creating a focal point that draws the viewer's eye.
The background is a hazy, muted green that fades into the edges of the canvas, providing a calming counterpoint to the warmer tones of the figure. The subtle gradient of the background suggests depth and space, giving the figure a sense of being situated within a larger environment.
Textures in the painting are varied, with some areas appearing smooth and others showing visible brushwork or palette knife marks, adding to the overall tactile experience of the piece. The painting's surface is dynamic, with a sense of movement and flow that enhances the figure's drapery.
Overall, 'As You Were' is an evocative work that balances between representation and abstraction. It invites introspection and evokes themes of identity, presence, and the passage between the physical and the metaphysical. The artwork's title, ‘As You Were,’ may imply a return to a previous state or essence, adding a layer of narrative or conceptual depth to the visual experience.
MICHAEL PRETTYMAN is a contemporary artist and scholar of comparative religion. He has been a maker his entire life. He is permanently at home in his work, creating a sprawling body of paintings, essays and lectures that bring together his interests in contemporary representational painting within the corpus of world wisdom texts and ideas found in cross-cultural eschatological traditions. Michael’s art practice is concerned with postmodern iterations of classic representational painting as informed by esoteric spiritual practice and study. He pursues his material practice as a meditation, whether it is in drawing, painting or sculpture. He has trained in classical drawing, painting and sculpture at The School of Visual Art, the New York Academy of Art and received advanced instruction in thangka painting at the Tsering School of Art in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has studied Tibetan Buddhist meditation and thangka painting in India, Nepal and in monasteries in Massachusetts and New York. He has a master’s degree in theology from the Harvard Divinity School. He has exhibited drawings and paintings in New York, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
He has permanent mural installations in the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Gardens, The Bronx Zoo, and St. John’s Church. Michael teaches Religion and the Visual Arts at Hunter College in New York City, and lectures widely on creativity, spiritual practice, mysticism and ideas of the divine. He is currently working on a book about creativity and spiritual practice, as well as body of paintings addressing the Anthropocene Sublime. He lives and works in New York City.