ASK THE ARTIST: 12 Questions & A Joke with Michael Carlyle

ASK THE ARTIST: 12 Questions & A Joke with Michael Carlyle

is an opportunity for our gallery supporters, friends and clients to get to know our artists a little better. It’s a fun way to get a glimpse into the personalities of the artists and at the same time connecting the artist with their art.
Hope you enjoy!! Ida Victoria

Originally from Canada, Michael first visited Mexico in 2005 traveling to Merida and throughout the Yucatan. Now almost 10 years later he and his wife have a busy studio in the small Mexican coastal town of Bucerias, Nayarit. Michael who is usually seen wearing a polo shirt and rolled up jeans with converse, is casual by nature and intense with art. He studied at the College Street Studio now known as The Academy of Art Canada in Toronto, he knows the best training comes from doing. Michael he has been commissioned internationally for his portrait work. As a disciplined artist, he paints every day and he counts Alfredo Ramon Martinez and Rufino Tamayo as major influences. In the future Michael and his wife look forward to exploring more of Mexico’s vibrant cultural and historical offerings.

“Being exposed to Mexico’s rich artistic history and natural environment
has opened up a universe of inspiration and possibilities”

-Michael Carlyle

Q: If there was a favorite work of art you could hang or display in your home, which would it be?

MC: Any work by collage / abstract expressionist Conrad Marca-Relli. During a trip to Mexico in 1952, a lack of available painting materials compelled him to experiment with collage.



“Conrad Marca-Relli graduated from Cooper Union NYC in 1935, and began his artistic career painting cityscapes and carnival scenes in a Surrealist manner. During his service in World War II, Marca-Relli absorbed the texture, solidity and inherent formal order of the architecture of ancient and Renaissance Rome. In 1945, he returned to New York and by 1949, he was a founding member of the “Eighth Street Club,” an artists’ group whose members included Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Jack Tworkov. In 1952, Marca-Relli visited Mexico where the effects of sunlight on adobe brick buildings had a profound impact on the development of his work. During a period of experimentation, from his rented studio in San Miguel de Allende, he discovered collage.* Art historian William Agee wrote, “Marca-Relli’s achievement has been to raise collage to a scale and complexity equal to that of monumental painting. Since its inception in 1912 by Picasso and Braque, collage has undergone many formal transformations, yet it has remained a corollary to painting…Marca-Relli…developed it as a complete pictorial system essentially without precedent in modern art.” -Agee, William C., ‘Marca-Relli.’ Exhibition catalog, Whitney Museum of American Art: New York, 1967, p.9.

Q: If there was one dead artist that you could hang out with for a day, who would that be? Why?

MC: It would have to be Ian Fairweather, Australia’s greatest painter. His fascinating life is translated in his paintings combining Western and Asian influence.


Ian Fairweather and his painting “Kite Flying” 1958. 129.4 x 194cm
synthetic polymer paint and gouache on cardboard laid down on composition board

“One of the most eccentric and unique characters in Australian art, Ian Fairweather was born in Scotland and immigrated to Australia at the age of 43. Fairweather enlisted in the British Army in 1914. Serving in World War One, he was captured by Germany as a prisoner of war and spent four years in various camps, illustrating prisoner of war magazines and learning Japanese. After being released at the end of the war, Fairweather decided to become an artist full-time, undertaking studies in Chinese calligraphy and oriental art in London and traveling extensively through Asia, Europe and Australia, taking inspiration from artists and scenes he met with along the way. During a period that he was unable to find work he lived with the local Aborigines. Here he produced his first paintings of Australia – landscapes and portraits featuring the local inhabitants and situations from daily life. In a show of his love of excitement and adventure, Fairweather set out on a solo raft journey from Darwin to Timor in 1952, only to be deported by Indonesian authorities that sent him back to London. The following year, he returned to the Pacific, building a thatch hut on Bribie Island where he would live for the rest of his life, ending three decades of relentless travel. From extremely rudimentary living conditions, Fairweather produced his most critically acclaimed works.”

Excerpt taken from:


OFFERING-PRIMITIVAS SERIES. Michael Carlyle. oil on canvas 40 x 50 inches

Q: If there was a magic power you could use in your art making, what would it be?

MC: To paint every single idea that pops into my head pictorially, instantaneously.



Q: If we were going to talk about your art, where would you want to start?

MC: I have an anthropology degree and somehow it seems to be reflected in my work since coming to Mexico.



Q: What quality in others makes you want to slap them?

MC: Lack of empathy.


OLD NEW. Michael Carlyle. oil on canvas 40 x 36 inches

Q: Art is so subjective, what kind of art is unappealing to you?

MC: I like it all. I take all art in. You can even learn from what’s unappealing.

mujercontemporaneo rojo

acrylic on canvas & collage 20 x 20 inches

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as far as your art, inspiration or career?

MC: Don’t be afraid, it’s only paint. Intelligent less is more. To quote Bruce Lee, “Obey the principles without being bound by them. “



Q: What is most important to you…the subject, the process or the final work?

MC: The final work and the initial concept.


WHERE ARE WE GOING? -Self Portrait with Painting of Woman’s Head.
Oil on Canvas, 35 x 47 inches


The Kingston Prize is a Canada-wide competition and exhibition tour for Canadian portrait painting. The competition is open to any Canadian artist who depicts a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant in a portrait based on a real life encounter. The aim of The Kingston Prize is to encourage and reward the creation of contemporary portraits by Canadian artists, to promote Canadian artists through competition, and over time to develop an historical record of Canadians, by Canadians. Each exhibition becomes a fascinating snapshot of a cross-section of Canadian life. A distinguished panel of judges determines the 30 finalists, whose work then becomes part of the national touring exhibition.

Q: If your work was edible, what would it taste like?

MC: Bright summer salad on a hot day.


MUJER CONTEMPORANEO CON PLATANOS. Michael Carlyle. acrylic on canvas 36 x 47

Q: What is the one thing you need in your studio to work, other than your art supplies?

MC: A clean floor. I don’t mind the studio being messy or cluttered but I can’t bare to have stuff on the floor, I feel I am constantly stepping on land mines.


Michael with his wife, business partner, agent, artist
in her own right and biggest fan, Floydilou Kerr.

Q: What is your most favorite piece of your artwork on display in Galeria de Ida Victoria now, and why?

MC: “Forgiveness.” Even though it was painted in Mexico where bright and vibrant colours prevail, I used muted tones in the painting to create a sombre mood.


FORGIVENESS-PRIMITIVAS SERIES. Michael Carlyle. oil on canvas. 35 x 40 inche

Q: In the era of the internet, why do you choose to continue to work with galleries?

MC: Anyone can be on the internet not everyone can be in a gallery.

Q: Now the best part, tell us a joke.

MC: It’s not really a joke but proto pop painter Larry Rivers, recalled how Jackson Pollock once tried to run down one of his sculptures that was in a friend’s driveway in East Hampton.

Why do I love Michael Carlyle’s work?

When I first received the images of Michael’s Primitiva Series, I was immediately struck by the contrast found in each portrait- the hands and bodies painted so simple in form and exaggerated in size next to the delicate and traditional rendering of the faces, coupled with the bold color used in the backgrounds, I immediately fell in love with them! I could tell that Michael was classically trained in portraiture, but had a wild streak in him too. And then this series evolved into his next, the Mujeres Contemporaneos Series, where he really had a chance to pump up the colors (no doubt inspired by living in Mexico) and take the portrait to a different place entirely. They are bold but still serene. I love them all! I am very proud to have his work in the gallery, and look forward to seeing how his work evolves.

-Ida Victoria


My favorite Carlyle piece in the gallery is, FAITH. I love everything- the delicate beautiful face, the bold color of the background, the composition, that stare. Even the orange stripe! It’s perfection.


FAITH. Michael Carlyle. oil on canvas 35 x 40 inches

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