“Heavy breasts, curves, and protruding bellies of pregnant women. Never before had he being so sensual, I was going to say so tender.
" Marc Augé
Michael Bastow has been an artist as long as he can remember. Upon immigrating with his parents to Australia in 1945, he attended a school with non-traditional education where he had the opportunity to develop his passion for painting. Since there were no serious Beaux Arts schools in Australia, he chose to study architecture at Melbourne University. Upon returning to England in the late sixties, he worked as a decorator for film and found it an entertaining way to earn his living. It was only in 1975, when he moved to Belgium, that he started to paint full time; mostly women, and mostly naked.
In 1982, Bastow finally decided to settle in France, first in Paris, and then in Provence. Throughout his many peregrinations throughout Europe, he built strong links that lead to cooperation with artists and authors of all backgrounds. He illustrated the manuscript of the Belgium writer Hugo Klaus, and cosigned La Femme en Majesté with the anthropologist François Héritier. In the preface for Pastels 1986-1991, a drawings anthology of female nudes, Roland Topor wrote “he relentlessly paints women to give them what they don’t have: his desire.”
The Luminous Object of Desire
The feminine body in a naked conquest is at the center and essence of Bastow’s oeuvre. Women in multiple positions, reclining, sitting, languorous, legs opened, erotic, peaceful, or lost in their most intimate dreams; they inhabit an erotic universe. The technique used, oil pastel, evokes the sensation of velvety skin, and the luminous tenderness of a moment in suspension. His carved lino-etchings, by contrast, depict the crude and devouring pleasures of the flesh, which are expressed in erotically charged scenes.
In 2001, Bastow, who currently resides in Provence, acquired the Chapelle Saint-Alexis, nestled in the narrow streets of Malaucène (Vaucluse). The chapel is now abandoned and its decorations are long gone. Bastow projects to restore and decorate it. It is a true space of exploration, a space of infinite possibility, but consequently a space of architectural constraint. It has become his “kindergarten”, allowing him to initiate a monumental project, the “Ephemeral Frescoes,” which unfolds the seven ages of women. On separate transparencies, he sketches a shoulder, a hand, a leg a face, etc. Each drawing has a life of its own and can be applied to any of the existing figures. They can be preserved, covered up, or fragmented, in an eternal beginning. Pinned to the walls of his studio, pastels, charcoal sketches, and pencil drawings wait for their turn to be center stage.
A strong believer in the idea of the inherently non-permanent quality of the human condition, Bastow lets his works ripen and mature. Then, after an indefinite time, he approaches his paintings again, nourishes them, and transforms them. Here and there he cuts out a face or a torso and attaches it to another drawing. Recently he has applied gold leaves on his frescoes-drawings, similar to the Byzantines that adorned the renaissance bodies with a sacred aura. The abandoned chapel has become the stage of the cycle of life, where the artist who becomes the master of ceremony and spectator all at once, continues to relentlessly explore the mysteries of the female body and soul.
2013 : Rêves Chinois, exposition individuelle, Galerie Alain Blondel, Paris
2008 Icônes et autres re-créations, exposition individuelle, Galerie Alain Blondel, Paris et Galerie De Zwarte Panter, Anvers
2007-2008 Installation de Sept panneaux, Chapelle Saint-Alexis, Malaucène
2004 : Pastels et fusains, exposition individuelle, Galerie Alain Blondel et Musée de l'Érotisme, Paris
2003 : D'une Certaine Gaieté, exposition individuelle, Cirque Divers, Liège
(Born in 1943 in England)