Interview with Michael Pfleghaar, Still Lifes Between Realism and Abstraction

Interview with Michael Pfleghaar, Still Lifes Between Realism and Abstraction

“My artistic style lies somewhere between abstraction and realism with colourist sensibility.”

By Rise Art | 21 Sept 2022

Michael Pfleghaar has recently joined Rise Art, bringing his Hockneyesque Still Lifes works to the platform. Michael is an illustrator, painter and ceramicist. Exploring elements of self-reflection and materiality, the artist applies flat space, simple, clean lines, and balanced yet bold colours to his works, creates archaeological dialogues between scenes, settings, and objects.

Michael applying underglaze to some new greenware ceramic sculptures (@pfleghaar)


How would you describe your artistic style?

My artistic style lies somewhere between abstraction and realism with colourist sensibility. My goal is to combine the two opposing artistic styles into a unique visual language characterised by flattened space and exaggerated colour. Modern design is also an influence in my work as it seems to follow a similar visual aesthetic and material for subject matter.

Solid Liquid Glass, 2019, by Michael Pfleghaar


What messages or themes do you want to communicate with your work?

The major theme in my work is relationships. Objects and plants depicted in my compositions become the surrogates for the figure and how they relate to each other visually and symbolically.

Wire Plant Stand, 2019, by Michael Pfleghaar


How has your practice evolved over the years? Have you always worked in an abstract style?

Over the years my art practice has varied from dark figurative narratives in my undergraduate studies to personal interior spaces and still life. In graduate school my work evolved to entirely non-objective while dealing with the same themes of relationships. I have since come back to realism drawing from life as an autobiographical tool while combining elements of abstraction.

Michael working on a house project at home (@pfleghaar)


What’s an average day like in your studio? 

I see myself as an art worker so my studio practice is priority. On a typical day I arrive around 9am and work on various paintings at the same time. Usually one large scale piece on canvas and a few drawings. I enjoy creating in series as well, exploring themes through a body of work. Afternoons are spent doing the business side of art, documenting work, updating websites, applying for shows, etc.

Monstera Shadows 1, 2021, by Michael Pfleghaar


What/Who are your key influences?

My influences vary from old school painters such as Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard. Contemporaries like David Hockney, Jonas Wood, Paul Wackers, Nathalie du Pasquier, Carrie Moyer, Amy Sillman and modernist designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Charles and Ray Eames, and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

Agave at Night, 2021, by Michael Pfleghaar


Who are some Rise Art artists with work you’re enjoying at the moment?

Lisa Kellner went to the same Graduate School in Boston as I, so I enjoy and found her work on Rise Art.

Dark Botanical 4, 2022, by Michael Pfleghaar


Are you currently working on any exciting new projects?

This year has been a busy one in the studio with lots of commission paintings and getting back into clay building a body of botanical inspired ceramic objects.

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