Michael Weiss: Deliberations at MICA’s Pinkard Gallery October 10 – November 9

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Michael Weiss makes pretty paintings. There’s no way around this. Luminous color, calligraphic swirling lines, and harmonious spills of organic ovals all add up to one good-looking conclusion. Critics often dismiss works which are too pretty, as if it were a replacement for substance or an antithesis to ‘serious’ work. Whether you like them or not, Weiss’s paintings are anything but fluff, a result of a rigorous study into the vocabulary of painting.

Painters, by and large, think in abstract terms: spatial layers, liquid spills, color, and light. Weiss is no exception. His commitment to this kind of abstract thinking is the subject of his new exhibit called ‘Deliberations’ in MICA’s Pinkard Gallery. In this series of mostly warm and intensely colored canvasses, Weiss attempts to sit still with his ideas, to experience a certain kind of constructed imagery, a construction he’s arrived at after much ‘deliberation.’

Deliberations walks a fine line between too much, too little, and just right. Some canvasses need more dissonance, others need less. In all the work, Weiss’s distilled system is consistently applied until a moment of resolution is arrived at, rather than completed. This is a system which works best when less is more, where surface and depth interchange, and color relationships are analogous.

Is it brave or is it lazy to paint the same painting over and over ad infinitum? You can make the argument that all artists who manage to sustain a career and studio practice over time do just this. Weiss’s unabashed devotion to his lovingly forged painting strategy is both defiant and foolhardy.

In an age where painting is dead, Weiss is a lone soldier marching to the beat of his own drum. He doesn’t care about being hip, about being relevant socially or politically, or being someone he is not. Looking at these canvasses, one senses they are forged honestly, without tricks or short cuts. Lyrical, romantic, familiar, and, yes, pretty, Weiss’s oevre is like a happy marriage, mellowed with age.

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