About 12 years ago I discovered the work of the American artist Michael G. Laster on the web. I was impressed by the artist’s imaginative figurative paintings of adolescents. The paintings reflected a rare sincerity which gave the work an emotional beauty. Eric Fischl’s paintings from the 1980s are the only other contemporary works that come to my mind that are similar. Contemporary figurative art is expected to be “cool”; the artist is expected to wear a mask and avoid any sensitivity.
Laster’s Birthright is a diptych of a boy in a field of wheat and a girl in a field of flowers. The painting technique is very crude but it actually gives the work a child-like charm. The boy and girl each hold symbols of the opposite sex, the boy holds a cute cat while the girl holds a spooky bird. I only recently noticed that the boy is holding flowers in his hand from the field the girl stands in while the girl holds wheat in her hand from the field of the boy. Although the symbols are clear, the meaning of the work is still ambiguous; it is very poetic.
Laster’s drawing, Playing Doctor is like Eric Fischl’s classic work from the 1980s.
Unfortunately there is little information on the web about the paintings because the artist’s site has been down. The info I could find was from a post from 10 years ago by Gary Sauer-Thompson about the exhibition Based on a Thorough Understanding of the Way Things Are. A photograph from the exhibit titled Girl Refuting Hegel’s Dialectic Model of History, may be of Laster with his daughter. Either Laster has a sense of humor or she is just a really smart girl! If anyone has information about this charming work let us know. I would like to arrange an exhibit of his work. I’m afraid Laster may have stopped painting due to the cultural environment, which is a great loss.
Other work by Laster can be found here.