MICHAEL KESSLER (1954-)
Michael Kessler’s work explores the continuum between gesture and geometry. Each piece comprises up to 50 micro-thin layers of translucent and transparent acrylic. Biomorphic tendrils branch to and fro while arcs of line and color slip over and under matrices, balancing nature’s sinuous curves with the mindfulness of structure. He likens the gestural freedom in his works to a kind of painterly “tai chi” – a visible expression of a line of energy – and imbues his structural motifs with a sense of play and buoyancy. Like the yin and yang, his paintings’ organic and geometric elements speak not of a dichotomy but integration. Nature provides the basis upon which his work exists. Thirty-five years ago, he began by painting landscapes growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania.
Specific memories became crystallized pieces of his current lexicon. One such set of memories included long slow meanders through the wooded sections of the farm. He clearly remembers studying the floor of the woods, the bark of the trees, branches, leaves, and even old pieces of debris such as rusted metals contrasted with the ever-renewing life of the plants. Other memorable observations took place on ocean beaches, imparting impressions of the colors and textures of the sea and the shells, which he references in the creation of some of his work. Later, through the prolonged observation process, the inner dynamics of the natural world grasped his attention. The question of how and why nature looked began to drive his work. He became sensitized to the biological processes responsible for the appearance of the natural world, like sedimentation and erosion. Compositions allow him to place elements into and under the layers of the paint to draw attention to time sequences and continuums, leading the eye/mind through the process. The paintings function much the way music does but with color and textures. He can stimulate associations and create visual experiences that awaken memories of tree bark, sea shells, and the sea’s surface. Nature is his model, and transformation is his subject – his process is organic evolution. His work can be found in over 25 museum collections in the US, in addition to numerous corporate and private collections.
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