Self – Destruct: the artist Mike Freedman’s concept of the Man’s Devastation of his Environment.
He has degrees from London, Oxford and Saskatchewan Universities and he recently graduated from the famous Chelsea and Wimbledon Art School. He had a successful International business and parallel political career and then, 10 years ago, he began painting. We are talking about Mike Freedman who lives between London, Tisbury (south west England) and Ascoli Piceno, in Italy, where he is organising his first Italian solo exhibition in the 14th Century Captain’s Palace in the Piazza del Popolo from October 21nd to 31st, after expositions in London, Salisbury, Harrogate, Shaftsbury in UK and in New York City in the USA, at the prestigious Agora Gallery.
The exhibition, entitled Self – Destruct: Man’s Devastation of his Environment, is about the global destruction and the planetary devastation: pollution, man – made climate change, resource exploitation and pesticide poisoning, observed during his travel to over 60 countries. 30 paintings where he uses the abstraction of landscapes as his vehicle deploying a variety of media and grounds (canvas, wood, steel and granite) to challenge his audiences to through the crisis with which we are all confronted.
1) Why did you leave a successful political career to start an artistic one?
My business and political careers were run in parallel and by the time I was 60 I had achieved what I wanted to at a personal level. I always felt there were three phases to life. To study I took three degrees in London, Oxford and Saskatchewan (in Canada) and by the time I was 24 felt it was time to finish my education and work. This I did as well as my political career for 36 years. Then it was time to do something else. I had many options including taking up music, doing voluntary work, studying for a PhD in a new subject. Eventually I chose art. I had always collected and been to galleries and I wanted to try painting for myself. I was hooked after 3 hours…because I was useless!
I persevered and last year took a degree in Fine Art. Since then I have exhibited in the UK, the USA and now Italy.
2) What or who is your source of inspiration?
My initial inspiration was my first tutor, Gavin Maughling, a great teacher and a really nice guy. I am intrigued by abstract art and Kandinsky and his journey to abstraction is key to my work. Alberto Burri’s work and that of Gerhard Richter are also major influences. My time in wildernesses is important from Antarctica, to the Namibian Desert and the Canadian tundra give me a context for my art.
3) Self-Destruct is about environmental devastation. What is the future of our planet?
I am pessimistic that governments can do much and that multinational, exploitative companies care enough to do anything to regulate environmental destruction. The quest for profits seems too great for the latter and governments globally have too many conflicting interests within their own countries let alone the ability to agree an international program of action. Nothing much has happened since the climate change conferences in Rio 20 years ago or Kyoto a decade ago.
4) Is there anything that everyone can do to curb this problem?
This I think is the key, the problem can only be solved by individuals at a personal level and then as a mass movement. Only when electoral power, protest, boycotts, strikes and the like are utilized will those in positions of power take notice. We need hundreds of Greenpeace type movements and action in every country.
5) Which is the way to raise public awareness in environment?
We need to employ every means at our disposal. But as long and the media of all sorts is controlled by monopoly type organizations and individuals like Murdoch and Berlusconi and the digital media is abused by the American security agencies it will be difficult. Yet there is hope where there is determination, E.g. when cell phones were used in Thailand to overthrow a dictatorial government and then again in the Arab Spring. The same is true of the fall of Soviet Europe. Mass action can work despite the odds.
6) You travelled extensively. Which is the country that has impressed you the most?
Antarctica! It’s not a country as such but a continent with no government, less than 5,000 inhabitants (all temporary) and is bigger that the USA in summer and twice as big in winter when the sea freezes. Full of colours – with atmospheres that are unique – animals, birds, fish, many unique to the continent, even some plants, a fierce climate and still largely unexplored.
7) Is to live between three different cities (and two countries) stressful?
No, it is a delight! We experience the diversity and attractions of London, the countryside in the south west of England near Stonehenge and the uniqueness of Ascoli. Children and grandchildren (we have 5 of each) are the major domestic draw.
8) Why did you choose Italy and why Ascoli Piceno?
Italy has an amazing culture, history, artistic heritage, food and wine, friendly people, language and diverse landscape ( we have been to Bolzano in the north, Sicily and Basilicata in the south, Rome, Naples, Genoa, Florence, Venice, and most places in between). These outweigh the bureaucracy and corruption for us.
Ascoli Piceno has a uniqueness and beauty that is found very rarely anywhere. We live in a 14th Century convent with a garden in the Historical Centre and with great neighbours and friends. To be 30 minutes from the sea and the mountains with a multitude of exquisite villages everywhere you turn is for us a paradise.