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Michael Jules Lang - an artist without time

On meeting Michael Lang one finds a gentle and unpretentious artist who made a professional career in a field far removed from the art world, while quietly developing his artistic talent for his own relaxation and pleasure.  There is little point in speculating on the ‘what ifs’ had he chosen originally to become an artist instead but just be grateful that he now has more time to create the pictorial gems on view here.

Lang’s use of colour and chiaroscuro, in an impressionistic discipline, is highly skilled and wholly exquisite.  This is immediately apparent in possibly his most comfortable discipline of still-life or more to the point flowers, such as ‘Daffodils in Violet Vase’.  He really does capture the transient lushness of their being, creating a dreamy atmosphere of scented warmth, drawing the viewer into a fresh, innocent arcadia.  It is interesting to note how Lang’s passion for the subject matter is reflected in the brushwork, producing a kaleidoscopic play of light from apparently strident, almost at times, seemingly reckless strokes.  This is what gives his work its pulsating life.

There aren’t many artists who can imbue a sense of intimacy and welcome to a museum interior but looking at Lang’s almost abstract impression of the corner of one room in the ‘Nissim de Camondo’ museum in Paris. one feels immediately as if one is standing in there on a sunny afternoon. Lang immediately conveys the distinctive Parisian ambience, the French polished elegance of the interior, exquisite Louis XV furniture with its ormolu mounts, again, not photographically produced in a mechanical manner but through skilled use of colour and brushwork that only needs to hint at the content to produce a vivid impression and feed the senses.

Here in the U.K. we regularly see in the press the latest official portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, who has been painted and photographed by dozens of artists over the years and the public is always quick to judge the likeness, the character, the aura, etc.  Some artists achieve this, others don’t and while Lang has not painted The Queen, yet, he does exhibit a honed intuition for capturing the essence, the character of his sitter, he portrays real personalities.  Even if one  has never met the sitters one can read and ascertain so much about their personalities; Lang goes beyond the skin to the soul, inviting the viewer to ‘meet’ that person.  He says he particularly enjoys painting portraits and on viewing ‘Portrait of Terry’ one immediately ponders what the conversation was between artist and subject during the sittings...there is real life here. 

In contrast to the intimacy of his still-lifes, interiors and portraits, Lang achieves incredible results with vast, open landscapes on small canvases, a sort of juxtaposition of mighty forces (large and small) while capturing tranquil moments in time, shimmering reflections and, as in all his work, allowing the viewer to experience these pictorial moments in time.