Through decades of creating post-symbolist art, Michael Roque Collins is recognized as a masterful painter of dream-inspired, imagined narratives. Drawing from imagery inspired by dream, personal memory, ancient artifacts and religious architecture, Collins explores metaphorical cycles of destruction and regeneration, spiritual realms of transcendence, environmental dangers, and redemptive hope. To Collins, dreams—for their surreal logic, obscure allusions, and counterintuitive insights—are profoundly relevant to interrupt the flow of the ordinary and challenge moribund thinking in our over-schematized contemporary world. In an exhibition entitled Reliquaries, Collins unveils a new series that directly addresses the power of dreams.
Collins’ dream imagery suggests allusions to what Carl Jung might call the collective unconscious, while also incorporating personal symbolism of the artist’s own past: the subtropical environment of his childhood in Houston, as well as his father’s collection of Pre-Columbian and African artifacts that surrounded him as a child. His scenes feature a variety of cultural iconography evocative of both antiquity and personal history – an armchair, a toy boat, small sculptural fetishes – set in metaphorical landscapes and temple-like interiors informed by his travels to Venice, Florence, Pompeii and South America. These objects and their settings allude to cultural myth, to the psychology of the individual, to natural cycles of destruction, and to the possibility of renewal and transcendence of the spirit.
Since the beginning of recorded time, cultures across the globe have found meaning in dreams, and in particular, how they might act as pathways to greater understanding. Many ancient cultures believed that dreams provided access to the spirit world; others considered them the gods’ means of communication. More recently, twentieth century psychologists utilized dream interpretation theory as a scientific method of understanding the subconscious, which the Surrealists then sought to mine for subversive inspiration in their art. Collins’ Reliquary Series continues this mode of aesthetic inquiry, containing images and ideas that disrupt, jar, and provoke, perhaps leading to inspirations or insights otherwise unattainable.