"2 Summers" and Big Paintings with Mikey Yates in Sydney
COMA is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Mikey Yates, titled 2 Summers, on view through January 27, 2024. This is the artist’s first solo presentation with the gallery and taking place at their Chippendale location. Continuing a tradition of deeply emotional and resonant figurative painting 2 Summers is Mikey Yates love song to small moments of hope or peacefulness that encourage optimistic living. Painted during the artist’s time at the Skowhegan Artist Residency, and then finished in Yates studio in Kansas City, these artworks capture points in time imbued with feelings of wonderment, awe and most importantly significant and wholehearted connection.
In undertaking this residency Yates was presented with unfiltered interaction with other artists, the natural environment and the luxury of painting, or not painting, without expectations. It is during this reflective time that space formed around Yate’s artistic practice, allowing for quiet moments away from past series of paintings. As the summer continued and ideas of artworks had begun to form it was these small moments of connectedness that were documented. Recorded in paint is the feeling of living and the feeling of an openness to experience.
2 Summers is both an internal, and external proposal. The physicality and literal summer the artist experienced, and the mental break and freedom alongside. This extended season is embodied in Yates’ paintings as he depicts a spectrum of love to loss, beginning to end. Friends and colleagues swim and celebrate, fires burn and relatives are visited – milestones and memories are made.
Night Swim in Maine, an inky blue portrayal of friends lounging and swimming off a pontoon in the middle of a lake under a starry sky, acts as an anchor in 2 Summers and a defining work that encapsulates much of what the artist is attempting to communicate in this exhibition. The figures on the pontoon are marooned and removed from their everyday lives, yet through a newfound closeness they have opted for this temporary isolation together. The painting is freeing and nostalgic and offers solace in both connection and solitude all at once.
In the painting Blue Studio / Zoom Funeral the viewer is privy to a profoundly intimate moment. As the artist watches his uncle’s funeral in the Philippines, family members also tuned in and following along, the distance between realities is palpable. Still, the artist, through this and other paintings presented alongside, makes it clear that his closeness to loved ones is a bridge. Yates states that “being in not just one place physically or psychologically, is like recalling a memory, a conversation”.
Drawing on both new and existing interpersonal relationships Mikey Yates outlines a history of people and their place on earth and in each other’s lives with an intimacy and degree of magnification that often conceals a wider world. 2 Summers is this world – condensed, cherished and celebrated.