In his most recent project, "Animals", Michael Duva's subjects, both wild and domesticated animals, are treated with a larger-than-life-reverence. Through Duva's lens, the viewer enters into a personal relationship with the animal.
This unique perspective reflects Duva's lifelong love of animals. Citing an illustrative book on horses he had as a child, he writes, "...On the last page was a picture of a glorious white horse viewed from below. It is clear to me now, that whoever drew the picture admired horses and looked up to them." His animal portraits confront the observer with an un-flinching clarity, compelling him to see animals not as aesthetic objects but as equals.
Duva prides himself in not restraining the animal or disturbing its environment in order to make art. Whether in an aviary or a wildlife sanctuary, a farm, zoo or out in the wild, he enables us to see the animal spirit within all of us. The hyperrealism of whiskers, feathers and fur, juxtaposed against deep black backgrounds combine to celebrate the intrinsic power and undeniable beauty within nature. As we are invited to gaze upon and be engaged with each subject, our relationship to each animal becomes more intimate. Still, the barrier between man and beast is, at once, torn down and highlighted. Evoking Caravaggio’s deep shadows and spotlight figures or reductive tribal masks we can also see each animal as an exotic trophy, their spirit celebrated.