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Michael Kessler
at Butters Gallery, Portland Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

There are apocalyptic undercurrents to Michael Kessler's mixed media paintings that impose organic messiness on orderly grids.

Continuing through April 30, 2011

Rome Prize and Pollock/Krasner Award recipient Michael Kessler interweaves organic motifs and rectilinear structure in “New Works,” his virtuosic suite of mixed-media paintings.  The organic forms are reminiscent of vines, plants, lichen, and the splattery ooze of raindrops and lava flow. They sprawl across, over, and under squares and rectangles which seem intent on containing them but prove unable to halt their Manifest Destiny. The paintings call to mind Alan Weisman’s cautionary 2007 book, The World Without Us, which outlines the gradual decay that could befall great metropolises if human beings died en masse or were forced to flee urban centers for the country:  an inevitable crumbling as nature encroaches upon once-pristine geometric grids. Despite such apocalyptic undercurrents, the artist’s vision is remarkably perky, mitigated and buoyed by a color palette of sumptuous reds, blues, and greens, effectively contrasted against blacks and earth tones. The glint of light on silky varnish also contributes a glamour that belies Kessler’s chronicle of relentless decomposition. Rarely has so fatalistic a story been told with such winning élan.

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