The artwork titled 'Everything You Know' by Michael Prettyman is a dramatic and emotive landscape painting that captures the destructive beauty of a wildfire. The canvas is dominated by a vivid contrast between the tranquil, misty atmosphere of the distant mountains and the intense, fiery blaze consuming the foreground.
In the upper portion of the painting, the mountains are depicted with soft, muted tones of blues and greens, creating a serene and majestic backdrop. The mist envelops the peaks, adding a layer of depth and mystery to the landscape, with subtle gradations suggesting the play of light and shadow through the haze.
The tranquility of the scene is disrupted by the raging fire in the lower portion. The artist has skillfully rendered the flames with dynamic brushwork, using a palette of bright reds, oranges, and yellows that leap out against the cooler colors of the background. The fire's glow is reflected on the smoky plumes rising into the sky, merging with the mist in a display of nature's power.
Below the flames, the field is depicted with somber tones, interspersed with small, delicate flowers that provide a poignant contrast to the destructive force of the fire. The detail in the grasses and flowers is meticulous, offering a textural counterpoint to the smoothness of the sky and the chaotic energy of the fire.
This piece is rich in symbolism and emotion, suggesting themes of destruction, renewal, and the impermanence of knowledge and nature. It is a visually arresting work that conveys the sublime, the beauty, and terror of natural phenomena, and the vulnerability of the known world in the face of nature's unpredictable force.
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.