“…the idea that a shape/form can occupy multiple spatial conditions and potential readings keeps me engaged in both making and looking… a Duck/Rabbit thing, rooted in the complexities and pleasure of perception.”
Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present, INFINITION, a solo exhibition of bold and colorful abstractions by Michael Gallagher.
Enigmatic, delightfully playful and bold, Gallagher’s new works at first appear as accomplished abstractions that reference modernist forms. Painted biomorphic shapes swirl around the surface, producing a centrifugal force generated from the center of the painting outward. Texture and varied paint application break the solidity of flat planes of color creating implied space in the composition. The shapes then alternately poke into those spaces and push out, shifting the relationship between what is considered the figure and what is the ground.
Aside from the striking visual richness of the painted surfaces, a second layer of interpretation reveals multiple manifestations of nameable objects and spaces. Gallagher’s titles encourage this read. A shape once perceived as a colored plane can become a hill, fish, bird, or still life objects. In some of the works, objects hover in a liminal state until interpreted by their relationship to the shapes surrounding them. This action of relational interpretation is what drives Gallagher’s studio practice. He enjoys the act of revelation, multiple (mis)readings, and the “potential” for subject matter. For instance, in Aquarium 3, joy and comedy are fully embraced as what was once a spot of color, turns into an eye and glares back, perhaps asking the viewer, “…what are YOU lookin’ at?”.
A Philadelphia-native, Gallagher spent his formative years studying at the venerated Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) which is well-known for alumni and pedagogy dedicated to the practice of observational painting traditions. Throughout the 1980s, Gallagher adhered to many classical oil painting techniques while experimenting with a blending of shapes and imagery. This approach has been the theme of his work for nearly forty years. Gallagher is the recipient of five Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where he has taught painting and drawing for several decades. After numerous successful solo and group exhibitions in the region, Michael Gallagher is now represented by Gross McCleaf Gallery.