The artwork titled 'Victoria, Victoria' by Michael Prettyman is a painting with a unique circular format that breaks away from the traditional rectangular canvas, immediately creating a distinctive presentation. The subject is centered and fills the composition, a figure shrouded in a ghostly, flowing garment that drapes elegantly, giving a sense of movement and softness to the form. The garment's folds are rendered with careful shading, providing a three-dimensional quality, and suggesting the volume and shape of the figure beneath.
The color scheme is relatively limited, focusing on cool tones that range from the light turquoise of the background to the deeper shadows of the draped form. This monochromatic approach draws attention to the play of light and shadow, emphasizing the delicate gradations and subtleties of the form. The eyes of the figure are two dark spots, the only break in the otherwise muted palette, which creates a haunting focal point within the piece.
The painting’s smooth finish and the way the figure is set against a flat color background lends it an almost surreal or otherworldly quality. There’s a serenity and mystery to the work, inviting contemplation on the identity and emotions of the obscured figure. It’s a piece that combines elements of realism with the ethereal, creating an intriguing visual tension.
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.