Skipton, England. 1953
Michael Downs has exhibited internationally in over 250 shows including the Pompidou Centre, Paris; the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona; The Barbican Arts Centre, London; and the Osaka International Triennial of Painting, Japan. In 1991 Downs moved to and and worked in Sydney, where he was Head of Drawing and, later, the Head of Postgraduate Studies at the National Art School. He returned to full-time painting in 2009 and now works in studios in Sydney, Beijing and Bali.
His 'constructed paintings' investigate the visualisations of sound, air movement and hidden electronic and chemical energies within the negative spaces of our world. In shape they are non-rectilinear and non-Euclidean and incorporate widely varying textures of paint and surface.
Environmental issues are very significant both to his practice and to his personal beliefs. In his work, the activations of negative space are, on one hand, vital in encouraging fertility and reproductivity in nature but on the other hand they have become the battlegrounds of environmental degradation through pollution and global warming. Accordingly, his work in recent times has fronted both scenarios; the Australian 'birdsong' constructions contrast with the Beijing 'urban energies' of current works; two aspects of the same world. In each case he has sought to visually manifest the hidden in order to prompt the viewer into a re-evaluation or re-awakening of interest in the non-material.