M Collier is an American artist based in California, who paints mostly still life. Browsing M’s blog is not unlike doing detective work: one witnesses how during the course of almost two years the artist’s style gradually shifts from realism to hyper-realism — without clearly fitting into either of the two, and making some unexpected stops along the way. Palette and focus sharpen; lines, soft and at times slightly blurred in earlier works, incise the surface with a scalpel precision in latest. But it cannot be simply said that the artist grew more proficient with time. What I see is a deliberate and careful search for an individual style, which might mix a number of trends, in a trial and error method, and would eventually constitute the optimal amalgam for the artist.
M’s today’s blend is so homogeneous that sometimes it is difficult to discern any clear stylistic affiliation. The painter created a style that defies categorization — both a unique adaptation and a category of its own. Indeed, at some point it may seem that the artist may finally settle for any of the relevant trends — realism, hyper-realism or even impressionism, at the stage when light effects enjoy a particular emphasis. For an outside observer that expectation alone is highly stimulating. Ultimately, however, one learns that waiting for a definitive outcome is counterproductive — but more amazing is the fact that that only serves to increase the suspense. Is the artist playing some kind of a highly elaborate visual game? In my newly assumed role as a detective, I tend to say “yes” without a self-reproach of paranoia.
If pressed, I would have to say that the fine details, most reflections, depictions of glassy surfaces are usually hyper-real; light effects are often presented through a translucent impressionistic filter; the darker areas, fortified by earthly tones, exhibit strong realistic traits; finally, economical compositions may be found in either of the schools, as has been shown by several daily (and not only) painters. I admit that this analysis may only testify to my own confusion in the face of the entire (blogged) oeuvre. Once again, the only way I can explain this eclecticism is to suggest that it was the artist’s aim: to carefully study the possibilities of various trends, derive from each one a set of useful features and project them through an individual lens.
Perhaps this outline may serve as a tentative guide to examine and interpret specific paintings. There is no definite distribution of features; each piece may include either qualities in various ratios, depending on the theme and composition — but I find the endeavor itself titillating and gratifying. In M’s own words, the blog was “created to chronicle the artist’s progress as a painter.” We witness this progress, but are doomed to remain a step behind — just where the artist wants us.