Michael Kerbow

San Francisco, California

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Saturated Markets

Painting

Although my painting “Saturated Markets” from 2018, with its vista of billboards displaying the word MORE could certainly be thought of as a commentary about economic hyperinflation, it’s a wry critique of contemporary society’s insatiable appetite for consumerism. Invariably I see this activity as creating unwanted consequences upon the planet. (Hence the apocalyptic-looking sky). I don’t know what awaits us in the future. I just try to encapsulate what I see happening in the world today for others to consider.
2021
  • Michael Kerbow

Hive

Here’s a throwback Thursday from 2010. My painting “Hive”, which was an early work from my Aberrations series. This image was when cars first began to make an appearance in my work. At the time I thought of this as an apt metaphor for our industrialized society. From the perspective of an outside observer, our existence probably seems surreal. Basically, we are a species that travels around in metal machines that slowly pollute and cook our world. It seems so illogical. Hopefully, this will soon be an obsolete perspective as we transition from fossil fuels to a more sustainable form of existence.
2021
  • Michael Kerbow

Untitled

Painting

This painting is from my Portents series, an ensemble of allegorical works intended to be visions of our imminent future. This painting depicts a towering structure where the world’s powerful elite reside. This 1% of society live in luxury, high in the sky, lording over everyone else crowded below. Of course, this is already happening today. Just look at the many luxury buildings in all the major cities around the world. I suppose it is ironic that my painting now hangs in a penthouse loft of such a place. But artists need to eat too, so I appreciate the patronage. This work addresses the dominant belief system in today’s society that humanity will prosper only through continuous economic growth. We need a change in mindset — a circuit breaker. The many different nuts and washers affixed to the circuit board suggest that each of us, in our own way, can interrupt this non-stop cycle of production and consumption. We are capable of developing ways of living that are more thoughtful and creative, and less resource-intensive, to avoid climate catastrophe.
2021
  • Michael Kerbow

Gorge

Painting

My painting “Gorge” was inspired by Thomas Moran’s 19thC work “The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”(view in gallery).

I envisioned this place as carpeted with factories and refineries. While Moran sought to convey the sublime beauty of nature, my work attempts to portray a scenario where corporate interests have usurped control, in their quest to extract every natural resource for financial gain. Fortunately, we still have protected places in this world, but our collective actions are having a global impact, so nowhere is entirely safe from harm.
2021
  • Michael Kerbow

Fool’s Gold

Drawing

As it is Earth Day today, I thought I would share an older work of mine that was intended as a critique of our consumptive society. I drew it several years ago as a preparatory study for my painting “Fool’s Gold”. The image is an allegory about the folly of human beings and our industrialized society. We continue to consume natural resources at an alarming rate, and yet we seem oblivious to the unsustainability of it all. We dig ever deeper in our frantic pursuit to consume more and more. Left unchecked, we will eventually be confronted by the inevitable conclusion, that all this time we have been digging our own grave.

Our world can provide everything we will ever need if we can avoid treating it as if it were an all-you-can-eat buffet.
2021
  • Michael Kerbow

Untitled

Painting

I think I’ve finally rounded a corner with this current painting in my studio. I’m not going to call it completed just yet but I can see the finish line.
2021
  • Michael Kerbow

Part of “Late Capitalism” series

Yet another allegory about climate change and its impact upon our landscape.
2020
  • Michael Kerbow
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