AboutMike Silva's work represents an art without ideals; that is to say without a transforming imaginary, or a formal symbolic, but an attempt to picture the world as he finds it, without embellishment. For Silva the photograph is a source of realism, precisely for what it does not show. In the nineteenth century, realism was about building a totality, finding within the contingency of the world a universal principle. Today, the photograph is the only realism we trust; yet we are also aware that the photograph is only a fragment.
Silva revels in this fragmented realism, and builds his pictures from disparate parts, parts that we may wish to piece together, or form a narrative around, but are unable to. The pictures embody a sense of random urban encounters, whose ultimate meaning is absent- we are left with something akin to raw experience.
Silva's paintings are demonstrations of a technical mastery that has always come naturally to him. What gives his work its edge, however ,is his refusal to sublimate or romanticise. There is no art in his compositions- not even a postmodern poetry, as one might find in the work of David Salle for example. What we are presented with is a kind of raw data of the artist's life, presented with an apparent neutrality- its the straightforwardness, the ordinariness of the artists imagery, whether it be personal or political, that allows us the viewer to connect directly with these works. A lack of gloss or pretension however, does not finally mitigate against the artists real intentions; a desire to find beauty in the everyday, to present this beauty as it is found.
Without morality or meaning, beauty nevertheless provides sustenance, an elusive goal, waiting to be uncovered in the ordinary world of people places and things.Never taking the aesthetic for granted, Silva seeks it out in the world- these paintings are a record of that quest.