“Three Ruins,” 2008-2009, oil on linen, 72″ x 10″, reveals from Collins’ memory the impression of a certain scene from the Auschwitz Concentration Memorial. The tent-like structures stand as symbols for the loss that occurred in these places. Courtesy, Michael Collins and LewAllen Galleries.
“Moonstones At Midnight,” 2008-09, oil on linen, 100″ x 144″, represents the light upon the land after a Holocaust has occurred. After all seems lost in the darkest night illumination shines down on a parched and cracked earth to cleanse. This piece was inspired by the realms of the SS vegetable garden at the Buchenwald Concentration Memorial just above the present day city of Weimar. Courtesy, Michael Collins and LewAllen Galleries.
“Bending Oak in Wheat Field” represents the resilient natural spirit that bends, though does not break. Courtesy, Michael Collins and LewAllen Galleries.
“Walking on Ashes,” 2007, mixed media installation collaboration by Michael Collings and Hans Mozberger, acrylic on canvas with photographic collage, soil, stone, ceramic Raku, steel, bronze, and sound. This work was created in both Houston and Hilmsen, Germany by both artists. Courtesy, Michael Collins and LewAllen Galleries.
“Walking on Ashes,” 2007, mixed media installation collaboration by Michael Collings and Hans Mozberger, acrylic on canvas with photographic collage, soil, stone, ceramic Raku, steel, bronze, and sound. This work was created with both artists working both separately and together. As it traveled and evolved after its’ first exhibition, dirt from a German Church and stones from a slaughterhouse were added to the work. Courtesy, Michael Collins and LewAllen Galleries.
After many travels through Europe, and specifically Germany, an intense interest grew within Houston artist Michael Collins’ creative activity to remember aspects of the concentration camps of the Holocaust in Germany and Poland, not just for the sake of history but for the possibilities remembrance might have for the future.
“I am increasingly interested in sacred landscapes, which bring to mind both the suffering which humans are capable of bestowing on one another and that transform through the painting process into landscapes that are also capable of suggesting aspects of the meditative and possibility of hope,” he said. “Current global realities and episodes of cultural genocide such as in Darfur and in the Middle East are sensitizing and encouraging me as an artist, to explore imagery which may evoke a remembrance of this brutality and the possibility for enlightenment and hope through painting. The atrocities of genocide are a continuing concern and reflect the darkest aspects which humanity can self-inflict. If art can heal, and I believe that it can, this work is the beginning of my sojourn to remember, illuminate and mediate through the juices of belief.”
Collins’ work is the focus of the new exhibit “Sojourn in the Shadowlands,” opening Oct. 16, 2015, and on view through March 13, 2016, in the Mincberg Gallery at Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St. in Houston’s Museum District. Museum members are invited to a free preview reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. To renew a membership or to join and attend, visit www.hmh.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-527-1640.
Images included in the exhibition are from the areas of the Neuengamme, Buchenwald and Auschwitz memorial camps. These recent oil-on-linen and mixed-media paintings on black-and-white photographs reflect memories, which the land in and surrounding these camps evoke. In the essence of Collins’ photography, there is the brutality of fact that is suggested as a reflection of memory, but through the feeding of mixed-media pigment, the photographs transform to other worlds capable of illumination and the evocation of the spiritual and at times, the sacred. More than 30 pieces are included in the exhibition.
Most fundamentally, Collins painting relates to the tenants of Post Symbolism, where each painting is an ethereal membrane suggesting the poetic as experienced through dreams, memory, mystery and morphic resonance. Collins combines aspects of both figuration and abstraction to place the viewer into a landscapes dream worlds where the viewer’s subconscious is set free to associate additional meaning from each painting. As he echoes remembered remnants of Holocaust memorials, light bathes each work inviting the viewer to emerge from a psychological state of darkness.
Collins was born in Houston into a family of artists. His father Lowell Collins was a well-known fine artist and dean of the Museum of Fine Arts School. Collins studied there as a child and later at the University of Houston, where he received his bachelor’s degree in painting in 1978. In 1996, he was awarded the prestigious Meadow Scholarship and Teaching Assistantship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he studied for and received his master’s degree in painting with top honors in 1998.
Since 1978, he has been selected into more than 240 juried and curated regional national and international group exhibitions in the United States, Cuba, Peru, Turkey, Spain, Greece, China, France and Germany. He has been awarded more than 30 individual awards, many of which were in museums throughout the United States. In addition to juried awards in group exhibitions, Collins has received numerous grant awards including three, Cultural Arts Council of Houston Grant Awards for Excellence in Painting from 1991 through 1995.
Collins has had more than 50 solo exhibitions at nationally recognized gallery and museum venues, including LewAllen Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Gerald Peters Gallery in Dallas; Art Space/Virginia Miller Galleries in Miami; Redbud Gallery in Houston; La Galerie K, in Paris, France; and spaces in Santiago, Cuba; Berlin and other German cities. LewAllen Contemporary is the primary representative of his art. Collins’ works are held in more than 15 museum collections, including The Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi; Bass Museum in Miami; the El Paso Museum of Art; San Antonio Museum of Fine Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
In 2009, a hardbound text was published by Halcyon Press on Collins’ art entitled “From Ruins To Resurrection –Sacred Landscapes of Michael Roque Collins.” The publication includes essays by Jim Edwards, curator of the Pop Exhibition at the Menil Collection, as well as Edward Lucie-Smith, an internationally respected English contemporary art critic and historian. Collins has taught as visiting artist at numerous universities.
The Sterling Family Foundation
Nina and Michael Zilka Endowment Fund