Michael J Austin: Equus

The horse has a permanently reserved and special place on my easel. It is evocative of noble things, of things classical and ancient and possesses a grace and dignity favoured by artists throughout the ages. The equine head especially is an artist’s and sculptor’s delight. The prominent, solid nosebone so pronounced, softened by the always blowing silky nose; the taught tension of the tendons and muscles, a feast of expression and twiddley bits for the artist’s brush and an intelligence and empathy so easily seen in the eyes. For a long time I resisted the temptation to paint them as I feared an over-familiarity with the equine image, so I isolated and minimalised, separating the horse from the land and the tack and placing them on simple colours to enhance the form and focus the attention. In this way, to me at least, the horse became more than a horse. It began to turn into an icon, not because of any particular skill of mine as an artist, but because of the magical spell of the Equus.

Michael J Austin, January 2020


Michael J Austin (b. 1959, UK) lives and works in Devon. He is known for his bold and expressive figurative style, capturing the dynamism and energy of the animals he depicts. Painting quickly and with a fluid 'wet in wet' technique, his bold contrasting of vivid and naturalistic hues brings a sense of grandeur and theatre to even the simplest of everyday subjects. In this collection of five new paintings, he celebrates the majesty and beauty of the horse.