Michael Kessler

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ARTIST STATEMENT

 

Michael Kessler's rhythmic and elegantly layered geometric abstractions are held in museums and major collections throughout the country. While the compositions of his heavily-layered acrylic works are based in hard-edged geometric painting, they are not hiding measured mathematical formulas: their rhythms are loose and opulently musical. Kessler's paintings reveal themselves in time: while they might seem tightly intellectual at first, they ultimately revel in lush tonality and the complexities of layering, color, transparency and texture.

 

"These works are the result of veiled accumulations of paint in time," Says the artist of his work: "A veil can be beautiful in itself, but also announces that something is underneath. What is there is another layer--another gesture as expansive as the painting itself. I work not only with color, but texture, transparency, luminosity, and rhythm. My geometries are not the result of measured formulae, but of sensibilites steeped in the love of painting. I try to bring the energy from the process of making to the process of seeing. My paintings are not about some hidden narrative: they are about what you see."

 

For Kessler, a painting has a life while being made and another once it has been completed. These could be equated to something like a "childhood" and the state of maturity, but while artists often speak of their works being their "children," Kessler's idea is much different. It has an affinity to improvisational jazz in which elements and phrases appear with a creative spark that can be developed or pursued to build coherent even if complex structures that refine and celebrate them. Kessler often speaks about his work in music terms: rhythms, tones, the role of improvisation, time, layering, color, and the range of emotions and feelings that we don't always bother to articulate (even if we could). When the artist speaks of texture, he is talking not about the actual surface of the painting, but of the viewer's perception.

 

Kessler paints on panel so he can either work flat to build layers or on the wall to address the painting process in a gravity-defined setting. His palette also serves the immediate effect of clarity that works to both define his paintings and gracefully welcome the viewer. The complexity of these paintings is revealed when the viewer looks closer and begins to see the layering and the specific gestures that lead away from symmetry. Kessler's paintings leave a bold first impression and follow that up with a worthy depth.

 

Michael Kessler has won major awards such as the Rome Prize of the American Academy and the prestigious Pollock/Krasner Award. His works are included in major museums throughout the United States, including: The New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC), The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Columbus Museum of Art, among many others.

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