Mike Ferrell, the traveller’s eye in his Modern Naif
An Englishman, traveller and fascinating explorer of places and cities, he discovered his natural inclination towards artistic expression late in life, after having been a passionate visitor to exhibitions and museums around the world. As often happens, however, attitudes discovered late in life manifest themselves in an intense and whirling way, to the point that it becomes impossible to ignore them or slow down their emphasis, so Mike Ferrell takes up his paintbrush and palette and begins to travel around Europe to observe colours, lights and moments of leisure in cities and populations that exert a fascination of discovery on him. During his wanderings, he fell in love with Spain, its flavours, the sunshine and friendliness of its people, and decided to move to a small village in Andalusia, which inspired many of his artworks in which he immortalised the festivities, the opportunities to meet, the liveliness of the streets and where he felt much more at home than in his native England. His style is a modern Naif in which he highlights the people, to whom he feels most attracted with the typical curiosity of the observer, whom he meets in the streets and squares, or when they go to the market and the souks, but also the most important monuments of the cities he visits and which he sometimes makes the protagonists of his paintings. The pleasure of travelling, which is innate in Mike Ferrell, is therefore combined with the instinct to memorise stills of scenes he has experienced and views he has discovered during his wanderings, which then, once he has returned to his warm Spain, are transformed into real testimonies of the moments he has experienced, the atmospheres he has breathed in and the wonders his eyes have observed. Every city, every place, becomes an opportunity for him to get to know them better, to interact sociably with their inhabitants and to reveal their character through a sensitive artistic gaze that enables him to understand their nature also through the structure of the places themselves, the shops that follow one another in the streets, the bustle of the streets and also the silence and tranquillity that distinguishes others; Florence, Buenos Aires, Paris, Lisbon, Marrakesh, are just some of the countries visited by globetrotter Mike Ferrell and whose views and characteristic corners are narrated in his paintings. More than the symbols of these towns, what attracts the artist’s gaze are the views of everyday life, that of being an observer for a moment but then actually participating in those fleeting fragments of life that remain indelibly in his memory and enrich his emotional treasure chest. The chaotic crowding of the streets of Buenos Aires, immortalised in the artwork Calle Defensa, represents all the vitality and exuberance of the Argentinean people, that love for life in the open air that Ferrell cannot avoid recounting; in the same way he is struck by the majesty of the Florentine cathedral, to which he dedicates the painting Duomo di Firenze where what is highlighted is the artistic beauty of the historic monument that seems to silently dominate the square with the people who enter for a fleeting moment to become part of it. And then there is the Spanish Tapas bar, which he describes in its least crowded moment, at the beginning of the evening when Ferrell can notice the tranquillity of the staff and the care with which the dishes are prepared. The English artist’s style is simple, and the colours are always bright, just like life and the wonders it conceals, which he loves to discover and recount, journey after journey. The people depicted are part of a multitude, detailed individually and yet necessary in the context of the canvas precisely because they are one among many, which is the open and sociable approach that distinguishes Ferrell, whom we will now ask to reveal more about himself.
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