We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Man in the waves



Michael Armitage

Kenya, England

1984 –

No image
  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on Lubugo bark cloth
    220.0 x 170.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated u.l. verso, blue felt tipped pen ".../ MArmitage/ 2019".

    Purchased with funds provided by the Mollie and Jim Gowing Bequest and the Lawrence Hinchliffe Bequest 2019
    South Building, lower level 1, 20th-century galleries
    Accession number
    © Michael Armitage
    Artist information
    Michael Armitage

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'I wanted to make a painting that was riffing off the idea of ‘the promised land’. I had thought about making two paintings, one of a man and one of a woman. Paintings by Courbet of women in waves began to interest me but I couldn’t find an image that would work for my painting. When I came to the Art Gallery of New South Wales I saw, for the first time, Ernst Kirchner’s 'Three bathers' 1913. It is such a strange painting... The figures’ bodies are subtly distorted, with a strange exotic floating flower that make the waves seem like large banana leaves. The composition is deceptively simple with the arch of the waves providing a rhythm across the painting. I had wanted to link the depiction of Utopia and the promise of young fertile women to the idea of sexual promise in a young virile man from the tropics (a slice of paradise!) and the 'Three bathers' gave me a way to do this.' - Michael Armitage

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication