I have been painting and drawing for most of my life and, in recent years making prints. These creative efforts are a means of grappling with the impulses and struggles that make up the way I see my place in the world. In a work of art I am pleased with, I have succeeded in wresting a sense of order from the chaos of an incomplete and unbalanced piece. I create the chaos and then I resolve it.
Although much of my work is non-objective, in the sense that it is not representational, I also consider myself, in some way, to be a landscape artist. I have been inspired by what I see around me – a small bridge, my garden, a view – and have been moved to put onto canvas or paper a spontaneous expression of that experience in an abstract way.
For a number of years, I have been making intensely colorful, frenetic studies of light and movement that, at first, appear to be monochromatic: red, blue, yellow, brown, gray, white, or black. Up close, however, these paintings are teeming with layers of thrown, dripped, and smeared paint. Even the medium varies: I use acrylic, as well as oil. I also apply these methods to my works on paper.
Recently, I have moved away from the appearance of the monochromatic in the paintings and other work—exposing all of the color, shapes and lines (as well as collage) in the finished piece.
I work rapidly, pacing the studio to look at the painting up close, and then from a distance. I rotate the canvas, so I can see where there is imbalance. I take if off the wall and work on the floor, flinging paint to create lines and movement.
The energy I call up to work in this way is both physical and spiritual. I am wrestling with divergent forces: intensity vs. detachment, emotion vs. reason, light vs. darkness, and color vs. black. Every work is an attempt to capture a moment of equilibrium, a kind of elegant balance in time and space that is recorded permanently in the painting, drawing or print. I settle for a while, and then I seem to need to do it again.
My hope is that viewers will be drawn in, will want to look at the work for a minute or two because in this image I made gives them a vision of the incredible power, ambiguity, intricacy, and beauty of our lives.
Michael Gross was born in 1944 and grew up in Chicago.
He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.