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Artist Statement: Michael Kessler

Michael Kessler’s work explores the continuum between gesture
and geometry. Each work consists of as many as 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, the organic and geometric
elements in his paintings speak not of dichotomy, but of
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. Certain 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, 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 colors and
textures of the sea and the shells which he references in the
creation of some of his work. Later, through the prolonged
process of observation, it was the inner-dynamics of the natural
world that grasped his attention. The questions of how and why
nature looked the way it did began to drive his work. He became
sensitized to the natural processes responsible for the
appearance of the natural world like sedimentation and erosion.
Compositions are set up to draw attention to things that change
and things that remain the same within a matrix of repetition. It is
why he often divides his work into bands which 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 is able to stimulate associations as well
as create visual experiences that awaken memories of tree bark,
sea shells and the surface of the sea. Nature is his model and
transformation is his subject – his process an organic evolution.
His work can be found in over 25 museum collections in the US in
addition to numerous corporate and private collections including
his recent commission for Emeril’s Chop House at Beth Sands
Casino in Pennsylvania.