The act of painting for Michael Butler is the triangulation of colour, semiotics and emotion. The emotive response to the contour lines in calligraphy is a response directly from very strong emotions that have been captured on the canvas. These emotions are explored through the expanded field of painting where he creates a sensory experience, as what you hear and smell through music and fragrance could make the viewing of paintings more experiential.

Painting is the primary expression that he focuses on. Within his work there is a rigorous drive to perfect the composition with colour.

There also is an in depth fascination for Butler with The Qing Dynasty and Twenty­fifth Dynasty of Egypt where people from these ancient civilisations mastered the techniques of accessing the unconscious world. In doing this they were able to relay things they saw into powerful iconography that you could see on ceramics and prehistoric wall markings. Overall Butler is communicating the abstract visual language that started with artists such as Kandinsky and Kupka during the early years of the 20th century.

An understanding of Butler's artistic work within broader contexts of contemporary art practice.

Michael Butler’s field of enquiry is divided into two main research topics. Investigating the genesis of ancient hieroglyphics and Chinese calligraphy through the examination of artefacts, and tools used to create written text. As a result of this research painting on canvas is the chosen surface. Using a variety of brushes, and tools to scrape off paint that has been poured on to reveal emblematical metaphors. He is attempting to see how his style of abstraction can respond to calligraphy; the abstract approach is linked to the relationship of lines, angles, curves and shapes.

The paintings are juxtaposed between British and East Asian culture, hence the artist Cai Guo­Qiang eloquently has similar characteristics regarding his ideology on creative freedoms, he states: “I always feel as though I am swinging like a pendulum between Chinese and Western culture”. (Cai 2000 p.117)

Butler is influenced by different cultures, therefore the use of hieroglyphics; symbols taken from The Qing Dynasty and the Nubian Dynasty in Egypt, specifically where there is a use of semiotics. This should allow people from those geographical locations to feel that the artwork resonates with them.

The narrative that he is attempting to relay is one of meditation while in the motion of painting and mark making. Regardless if people can read this calligraphy text or not, this is not the point, the script in itself might not be an actual word or phrase once it has been articulated.

The second research topic that Butler will examine is if the dream world is an additional dimension in this reality. The act of dreaming is an invisible process that you cannot see with the natural eye. If this unconscious process could prove access to extra dimensions, where maybe time is not present, this could be an access point to examine the superstring theory from a supplementary, uncanny standpoint. According to Sigmund Freud’s book ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, he insisted that dreams actually do possess significance in unlocking the human mind. He also states, “the dream­-content is, as it were, presented in hieroglyphics, whose symbols must be translated, one by one, into the language of the dream­ thought”. (Freud, 1997 p. 169)


Michael Butler is a young British emerging artist with Jamaican descent whose work incorporates abstraction, symbolism and shapes and forms, a system he developed to create paintings and sculptures. This is a technique that deals with experimental movement, structure and a three-dimensional drawing style using bodily gestures. His art is inspired by his dreams and the study of colours with emphasis on surface texture. Brushwork and detail are the fundamental attributes to his work.

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