In his upcoming project space exhibition, Michael Dowling will have the opportunity share his exploration of a new medium for his brilliant drawings—books.
“I’m working on books as a drawing surface, in part because I like the look, but it also seems to give my drawings a reference of deeper meaning or hidden story. The books make the drawings a finished piece of art without need for frames and have a bit of a sculptural feel. I am very specific about the books I use, only recent political memoirs and self -help books, as I am careful about taking any real literature out of circulation.”
Michael Dowling's work has been characterized as a combination of traditional practices in realism and his explorations of mark, pattern, and color to disrupt that reality. In many compositions, figures presented as portrait, morph into their surreal self, and lone objects tell stories through their subtle positioning. These objects and characters sit in bizarre spaces with intentionally disrupted atmospheres in order to find further meaning within the imagery.
“I intend to use the traditions of painting and drawing in a very contemporary voice; I make my work with a great respect for those traditions along with a fun contempt for our current situations.”
Dowling works in small volume of works, one after another, which allows him to challenge his compositional structures, disrupt imagery, and explore subject from unexpected angles. “I often start with imagery referencing art history and begin to adjust the content to give it voice in our current time.”
Michael allows himself to explore greatly with his work and let it inform him of meaning and content as much as possible. There are several themes that emerge throughout. At the core, is his great curiosity about stories that seem to repeat throughout lore and religion, with slightly different characters, but otherwise strangely consistent. The stories behind each piece often have a sense of icon that fits somehow with his slightly euro-western motifs. Much of his recent work responds to a need to wreck the image with marks that are artistic only, eraser marks and blacked out areas that he likes to refer to as redaction. “In creating my characters and icons then blocking them from view, I believe I'm trying to ask each viewer to plug themselves into the missing information or complete the story of the piece for themselves. I think that I hope their stories might be even more bizarre than my own.”
Born in Denver in 1972, Michael Dowling spent much of his early life as a typical kid apart from being an obsessive drawer. It wasn’t until the age of 25, and after several years studying various subjects as well as working in many fields, that Michael started painting. With that late beginning, Dowling dove full in and began studying extensively. At 28, he decided to sell a burgeoning art sales company and moved to Florence, Italy to focus on painting. He has since returned to his native Denver where he lives with his childhood love and three naughty children.