By Maria Threase Keating
Globally, the pandemic has been a source of a sometimes overwhelming sense of isolation and uncertainty for many concerning their livelihoods. Perhaps, even more so for those working and living in the ‘creative’ world who are already in solitary professions such as painters and sculptors. However, the crisis has also provided a new point of departure for artists such as Michael O’Boyle who is currently working at the Cyprus College of Art in Lempa.
A painter from the west of Ireland, he explains: “I have used my work as real-time documentation of the pandemic but in an abstract way. The large geometric paintings I am doing here in Cyprus have been directly inspired by the image of a Petri dish, which has become an all too familiar image during the pandemic. So I work with a digital microscope to enlarge forms into an artistic expression and in doing so, I make the invisible now visible.”
His use of strong pigments and symmetrical forms pulsate before the viewer’s eyes, reminding of the natural hues found in the landscape where Michael grew up. “As a child growing up in Mayo and later as a Fine Arts Student at the Sligo College of Art, I harboured a love of Biology alongside a deep interest in Archaeology and the natural world,” Michael says. “I could often be found wandering the fields at home with a microscope in my hand searching for interesting natural forms. Something magical happens when you put a tiny leaf or insect under a microscope because the smallest little thing under that lens opens up a whole new world”.
Michael’s work embraces the visual language of popular science and reflects a strong sense of organised geometries, colour conversations and graphic structures.
But what magnetic force drew the artist to return to Cyprus to paint during a pandemic crisis? “When I first came to Cyprus in 2019 I was healing from the end of an eight-year relationship and needed to do something ‘epic’ with my life. This island with its abundance of Greco-Roman archaeological sites and stunning palette of natural colours which straddle its Mediterranean landscapes and seascapes – that whole immersive experience catapulted me to restart my life with a renewed sense of direction in my work. In a nutshell, it gave me a second chance to start life over again.”