Michael Fair considers himself a largely self-taught painter. In 1984, Fair was diagnosed with AIDS and became very ill. To cope with what seemed to be a death sentence, Fair began exploring Eastern spiritual traditions. He read near-death experience books and travelled to Loudres, a small market town lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Fortunately, Fair survived and was able to take advantage of new drugs. However, he never lost his interest in Eastern traditions. Due to his love of travel and desire to visit places where Eastern traditions are primarily practiced, Fair began traveling extensively to South East Asia and India. He loved visiting Buddhist and Hindu temples and was transfixed by the worshipers’ devotion as well as chanting, fragrance of incense, chiming bells, vibrant colors, and gold.
Fair’s paintings are inspired by his travels. He noticed that temples adorned with gold “highlighted every other color to the degree of the amount of sunshine available.” He uses gold in many paintings in order to achieve this effect. Many of Fair’s paintings have unique textures, achieved by adding painted layers of paper from castaway corrugated boxes to canvases. He also uses medical equipment to apply gold tubular strands, which give his paintings a three-dimensional aspect.
Through experimentation, Fair uses unorthodox techniques to craft his own style. “A trip to India three years ago filled me with an energy and desire to express and to create, that I did what I have always wanted to do but did not: pick up a brush and just start painting without concern for the result.”