True artists are compelled to make art. The reason for their expression is not always important. What is always important, however, is the act of creation. Art comes before reason in the same way that the universe existed before science.
Mic Porter is one of those rare, great artists who is simply compelled to create. Mic isn’t driven by ‘career’ nor does he force himself to create consumable art. Mic is, instead, driven by a indefinable, fiery, energy of creation which torments him if he stops.
In his youth, this creative compulsion drove Mic towards graffiti. He forged ahead as one of Australia’s pioneer street artists, eventually to be tempered into a painter and sculptor by the VCA and experience at a bronze foundry.
Mic wrestles his demons with chainsaws, knives, markers and paint upon the battlegrounds of canvas, found objects, bronze and the exterior of tall buildings. His work is primal, expressive and above all, honest.
It’s easy to assume that Mic is a conduit for something that he doesn't understand; that his work is automatic and lacking self awareness. A subconscious process perhaps? After all, Mic’s work is primal, he is reserved and is reluctant to talk about his art. However, over the course of this project I have been impressed by the singularly sophisticated understanding that Mic has of his work and of art in general. Mic is not a spectator, he has mastered his drive, and is very much in control.
Perhaps even due to his reservation to talk about his work, Mic manages to express himself with the kinds of perfectly cryptic sound bytes that other artists drive themselves mad in an attempt to coin.
"Art is eternal narcissism, I’m a narcissist"
‘Self Loathing’ brings you a gallery full of screams, smiles and manic grins. In Mic's autobiographical collection of work, he's produced Totemic heads, brutally sculptured with from blocks of wood with a chainsaw sit in the centre of the large room, loomed over by the three largest Self Loathing paintings. The triptych feature Mic Porters iconic faces, instantly recognisable for the role that they’ve played in shaping Australia’s street art landscape for over two decades, now rendered in a mix of oil and enamel.
Each face is Mic’s, but also his family and society’s, he explains that it’s history coming through his face. I think that it’s more than that, I think Mic is so brutally honest with himself, that the self portraits end up reflecting all of us, which is why they’re so alluring and powerful.
Michael 'Mic' Porter studied at the Victorian College of Art, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, majoring in sculpture. Following his studies, Mic spent 8 years working for his VCA supervisor at Perrin Sculpture Foundry in Cheltenham, where he had the opportunity to learn modern and traditional bronze casting techniques.
The foundry offered Mic the privilege of working alongside many of Australia’s leading artists on the execution of major commissions. This time spent at the foundry enabled Mic to hone his casting and sculpting techniques, resulting in the production of two large bodies of work.
Mic's practice spans a wide variety of media including large scale murals, bronze, stone and timber sculpture, painting and printmaking. Constantly working with new and found materials, Mic is able to experiment with new techniques, informing his artwork as it evolves.
'Art is not just about technique. I believe that it is also about the mysteries of creativity and the ways in which creative people serve to enrich our understanding of who we all are.'
- Michael Porter