Memories on canvas

Discover Mike Silva’s intimate portraits of friends and memories
By Bailey Slater | Art | 27 April 2022

How do you show the men in life that you care? Do you cook their meals, write them letters, clutter their DM’s with memes? For his latest exhibition, Mike Silva has gotten into the habit of painting them, sizing up such figures on large canvasses where the colours are poetic and dusky like a foggy spring morning.


Above: Morning Light (Berlin), 2022

Showing at Anton Kern Gallery, the exhibition features thirteen new oil paintings that depict domestic interiors and intimate portraits of male figures. Between a half-drunk bottle of white wine and his phone, we have Ken, puffing calmly on a cigarette with one hand, and scrolling aimlessly into the abyss of an ambiguous social media app with the other. Faceless Jason is here too, nestled atop a denim jacket that’s laid out as a make-shift towel in Hyde Park, basking in the glow of an unbeatable London summer.

Elsewhere, Silva’s empty kitchen interiors speak to the domestic bliss of green-fingered friends and relatives, with imposing flowers dancing on kitchen walls in their indistinguishable forms. There’s an emotional charge to all of these environments, each home to a world of easter eggs hinting at the personalities that inhabit them. Though the living figures might be absent, these objects tell their own story.

(Left) Ken, 2022, (right) Mask 2, 2022

Silva is absent from these scenes too, instead setting up shop behind the lens or easel. He labours over light hitting in just the right spots to denote his emotions, expectations and bristling passion, in a mix of settings we can all relate to. These are scenes from the every day, where something significantly insignificant happens, and will never happen like that again, no matter how much you want it to. 

Mike Silva’s Portraits and Interiors runs from 6th May until 18th June on Gallery Floor 1 of Anton Kern Gallery.

Above: Kitchen Interior, 2021

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