The origins of Natasha Michaels recent monoprints lie in historical portraits from the renaissance to the 19th century. Exploring challenging and at times up-ending traditional conventions and genres, Michaels’ work is an investigation of her own ambivalence towards the originals. At once subverting and celebrating, she uses her own expressive language to recast and direct the sitters, reimagining them as fictional characters. The subjects often appear uncomfortable or perplexed as Michaels plays with ideas of power , gender and artifice. directing the viewer to consider their status.
Part old masters part cartoons the works hint at contemporary notions of importance and beauty such as celebrity, social media filters and cosmetic procedures and create painterly composites against flat indeterminate backgrounds. The sitters appear, to themselves as well as the viewer uncertain of their identity and context.
Michaels process adds to this unstable mutant world. Beginning with the reversal of the original image. Gestural brushstrokes, slips and smears combined with the sharp boundaries of the cut alluminium plates reveal strange chimeras on the paper . Unsettlingly recognisable yet unfamiliar , they hover between high art and pop culture. Michaels makes multiple versions of each print constantly experimenting and adapting her approach as if engaged in a conversation with the original sitters and the emerging versions of themselves.
Michaels studied at the Royal College of Art 1994-1996 and St Martins School of Art 1989-92