Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Maggie Michael at G Fine Art

By Katie Tuss

Washington, DC based artist Maggie Michael's third solo show with G Fine Art, "Open End," draws to a close with a party this Saturday from 6-8 pm at the 14th Street gallery.

Michael derived her new body of work from an explosion drawing she exhibited in September 2005. The paintings are expansive and complex, controlled and graceful, and executed with thoughtful precision.

The majority of the paintings featured in Open End are composed as if in momentary suspension between restraint and release. Michael uses latex house paint to create thick, organic forms that often read as internal organs or body extensions. These forms create disparate, yet cohesive images that overlap and merge bold colors, with frequent black accents, across a uniform neutral background.

Spray-painted details and meticulously placed contour lines further define the drips, tendrils, and masses of paint that fill the canvas. These meandering lines become veins, musculature, or just visual infrastructure along the way.

"Valley: bat" is one of the smaller pieces in the show, but has one of the heaviest applications of paint, which Michael allowed to run off and gather on the side of the canvas. A portion of the top layer of paint has been peeled away from the painting like a used bandage or a flap of skin, and is held in place by a piece of tape. The layer underneath is exposed and vulnerable, showing strings of paint that seem to be entrails.

Michael uses this partial deconstruction of a thoroughly crafted piece and subsequent revelation of a vulnerable layer to maintain a delicate balance between growth and deconstruction, healing and injury.

"Cage," another painting in the exhibition, is a tightly executed cascade of irregular shapes, drips, and lines moving down the center of the canvas. The dominant black heart shape anchors the composition, with its tail streaming behind it, transient yet momentarily frozen.

G Fine Art is located at 1515 14th St. NW, Washington, DC.