The irreducible, tragic, erotic, dynamic imperfection of life
By Isabelle Naef Galuba, Director of the Ariana Museum, Geneva
The first time I saw a work by Michael Flynn was in 1993. I was really flabbergasted by the frenetic energy that emanated from the sculpture, through its vibratory presence. It was as if a drawn sketch had been pulled out of its paper holder to begin a new three-dimensional life. This impression is perhaps not surprising when one knows that the artist studied and practiced painting for ten years before turning to ceramics. He admits, moreover, to continue his experimentation of the graphic arts from time to time and be totally fascinated by the point of rupture, or equilibrium, between 2D and 3D. This sculpture was at the same time imprinted with an enchanting poetic fiber and a good dose of ironic expression. Over the years, I have regularly discovered the artist's unpublished works, which featured exhibitions as diverse as geographically dispersed: American galleries, German museums, Belgian biennales, Polish symposiums, English art fairs, fairs Of Swiss collectors. In 2015, on the occasion of the Parcours Ceramique Carougeois, I finally had the chance to meet the artist and make his acquaintance. He returned to Geneva the following year, on the occasion of the exhibition "Passionnément ceramique. Frank Nievergelt Collection "at the Ariana Museum, which featured several of his pieces.
Flynn is a man of culture and humor, passionate about literature and a polyglot. And these are just some of his qualities. His work contains a wealth of meaning, narrative possibilities and innumerable philosophical impulses. Moreover, he himself delights in this infinity of interpretations. When he models a work, Michael expresses visually, and very intuitively, the path of his thought. The artist is sometimes surprised by the forms and iconography that emerge from his creative act.It does not claim to impose definitive meaning.In fact he is very interested in the reactions of the spectators to his work; Their comments may even make the incarnation of one figure or another evolve a posteriori.
The "flynnesque" figures are presented in their simplest apparatus, modeled in often suggestive but always moving postures. A French cancan dancer painted by Toulouse-Lautrec would not do better. Michael Flynn prioritises the rôle of the woman, as lover, as mother or as goddess, and adulates the Eternal Feminine of Goethe.Animals are often on two legs, treated equally with humans. The figures, coupled together, pairs, sometimes in groups, overlap, intertwine, tangle, crush or rise. Each part of their body seems to contort and gesticulate gayly, at the risk of disarticulation. Erotic, poetic, ironic, humorous or tragicomic? Each of us finds in this universe the reflection of our mood or our desire of the moment.
The spectator of Flynn's work is confronted with actors - animals or characters - and narrative evocations that emerge from the world of the divine, from myths and beliefs, from fairy tales. It must constantly evolve in transitional interstices, between these magical environments and the reality of everyday life, which are precisely embodied by the icons of the spectacular: harlequins, clowns, acrobats or entranced dancers. The sarabandes organized by the artist - dances, celebrations, presentations, races - showcase ritual moments in which all actors transcend Nature.For Michael Flynn "Nature is sovereign.Humans, animals, plants, all are subject to the commandments of Nature. Despite humanity's attempts to exploit, control and predict the forces of the universe, chaos remains the ultimate and, for us, incomprehensible order”.
The fusional bond between man, woman, animal, magic and Nature is particularly conspicuous in sculptures and wall reliefs such as Wildwood, Enchanted Forest, At the Forest's Edge or Forest Woman. The forest is a place of both disturbing mysteries and source of life; It is present in most popular mythologies in the same way as the tree, often identified with a human form.
Like many European institutions, not to mention those in North America, Ariana, the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass in Geneva, retains Flynn's works and acquired eight sculptures between 1996 and 2015.Today, the museum's collection of contemporary ceramics includes some 4'700 pieces by Swiss and international artists.Figurative sculpture occupies a prominent place since the reopening of the museum in 1993, after Its complete renovation. However, it has developed more intensely since 2010, when management and conservation took a closer look at this artistic theme. Flynn is a worthy and original representative. Since his beginnings, he excels in a subtle figuration; He never stopped exploring it, even though abstraction and design were the dominant tendencies of ceramic sculpture for a good twenty years. He tries all the possibilities offered by ceramics and navigates easily between his different materials, techniques and firing. Applying them to his favorite subjects, he puts everything into play, each time, to see if he can get even closer to the essence of his thought.
If Flynn's work suggests an exalted imagination that the Spectator can bring down and tell as he pleases, it remains paradoxically deeply anchored in daily, rites and very down to earth acts . The ceramist writes that he sees life and death as inseparable and driven by an endless dance. I especially appreciate a recent photograph that shows Flynn leaning over one of his sculptures, in an attitude suggesting that of a puppeteer at work. The puppet has a very powerful symbolism; It serves as a mirror to our unconscious and allows us through the puppeteer to realize all his (our) craziest desires, while remaining within a fictitious world. The art of the puppet is indeed that of the intermediary: a means of saying things very personal, without really revealing itself.Could this be one of the secrets of Flynn's art, a life-changing spectacle?
 « Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan », Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust II, 1832.
 « Nature is sovereign. Humans, animals, plants, are all subject to the dictates of Nature. Despite Mankind’s attempts to harness, control and predict the forces of the world, chaos rules as the ultimate, and, to us, incomprehensible order. In this sense humankind is but a flea on the back of the beast, a tiny fraction of the whole, which is Nature », Michael Flynn, propos recueillis par Isabelle Naef Galuba, mai 2017.
 « I see life and death as an inseparable and unceasing dance. Humans, who have separated themselves from Nature, have to struggle to maintain their balance », id.
 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michael_Flynn_Artist.jpg, 12 janvier 2016