The Artist’s Statement: Thomas Micchelli

Thomas Micchelli, co-editor of Hyperallergic Weekend, has what looks like a fine solo show of paintings and drawings on view at John Davis through March 1. Two bodies of work are included in the exhibition–“Bacchantes,” an ongoing series of paintings and drawings, and “Bivalves,” a set of two-part drawings that were on display in a 2011 group show at Centotto in Bushwick.

[Image at top: Thomas Micchelli, Bacchante (blindfold), 2015, oil and wax on Melamine, 11 3/8 x 10 inches.]

 Thomas Micchelli, 2 Bacchantes (pull), 2015, oil and wax on panel, 18 x 23 3/4 inches.

Naturally, Micchelli has written an elegant artist statement for the show:

Both [bodies of work] represent a concern with the dualities that play out in the creative act � the self-conscious and the instinctual, the rational and the irrational. The “Bacchantes” derive from The Bacchae by Euripides as well as its adaptation by the Performance Group, Dionysus in 69, a groundbreaking work of immersive theater that was staged in New York in 1968-69 and documented in book form in 1970. The figures depicted in the series are not direct references to either narrative; rather, they are theatrical characters taken out of context and reimagined in visual terms.

Similarly, “Bivalves” came about after reading a selection of writings by Gaston Bachelard, Max Beckmann, Jean-Luc Nancy and others, which were suggested by Paul D�Agostino as a basis for a group exhibition in 2011 at his Bushwick project space, Centotto, where the drawings were first shown. Each consists of two sheets, vertically stacked, in which the images in the upper and lower parts intersect at distinct points along the seam, conflating two figures into one.

Critics rightly ridicule artists’ statements that are poorly
written and larded with fatuous jargon, but Micchelli’s sharp, substantive statement strikes me as an exemplary one. Well-crafted artists’ statements, including those
using less traditional formats like fiction and poetry, can help viewers
understand an artists’ process and intent and significantly inform and enhance the aesthetic experience. I particularly like the way Micchelli skips any tendentious discussion of the meaning of his work, leaving it up to the viewer to apprehend and interpret his evocative use of formal elements–color, composition, quality of line, surface, and so forth.

Here are some images of the most recent paintings in the show.

 Thomas Micchelli, Bacchante (raised arms), 2014, oil, wax and Flashe on panel, 5 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches.
 Thomas Micchelli, Bacchante (walking). 2015. oil and wax on panel, 18 x 24 inches.

Thomas Micchelli: Bacchantes and Bivalves,” John Davis, Hudson, New York, NY. Through March 1, 2015.

Related posts:
Thomas Micchelli: Blue on pink (2012)
Invitation: A goodbye party and the DUMBO ARTS FESTIVAL (2014)


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

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