Oil on Linen, 95 x 75 inches. The artist currently exhibits paintings at Daniel Reich Gallery and Mark Jancou Contemporary.
Oil and pastel paintings by New York-based artist Michael Cline include a great deal a narrative about the arcane, the sickly, and the chaotic in Americana. His current exhibition coincides with the release of a book, with essays by Kathy Grayson and an interview by Matthew Higgs. Art in America has asked him below to take apart one painting for us:
Says the artist, "I consider myself a storyteller. I think to make art, is to tell stories, regardless of what you end up with. Whether they be religious illustration, institutional critique, or highlighting some sort of undervalued or unexpected thing that artists tend to do, artists are telling stories. So yes, narratives are imagined. And yes, I do think something fable-like appears from time to time—but I think more often my paintings take on the character of parable."
The whole palette revolves around the sickly green light of the lamp.Both color and composition aim for a queasy kind of claustrophobic atmosphere.
The viewer floats slightly above the table, just above the head of an artist. My inspiration for the painting's perspective came from a poster Egon Schiele designed for the 49th Vienna Secession exibition poster and George Grosz's painting"The Eclipse of the Sun." Both feature a kind of "Last Supper" motif as the meal table dips and the viewer rises.
Though the artist is at the head of the table, his is a diminished position, he's a sad sack figure: He's a scribe, a monk, a dreamer, and village idiot all wrapped into one.
This portrayal is definitely comparable to other paintings I've made of artists. I've shown them savaged by the police or sitting slackjawed in front of a drawing.
The policeman is barring the fellow from this meeting of fools. He's disgusted and horrified, but like a car crash he can't look the other way.
He's making a little portrait of some toothy subject that he spies over his shoulder.
It was imporant that the exterior be calm and act as a foil to the raucous goings on in the interior. Formally, the window functions as an anchor, but it also echoes the the shape of the table.
Is the boy sniffing the table cloth? I like that. I hadn't seen it that way but it certainly fits. The tablecloth is stiff, bunched up, and falling off the table. And the boy/man is sulking and bored.
In this particular painting the hands are the driving force, both hands and arms. The eyes simply underscore what the hands are emphatic about. The hands convey both attitude and direction—and maybe a little menace.
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