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MICHAEL KESSLER

SHIFTING FILTERS

September 2nd - October 25th, 2021

RECEPTION: SATURDAY, October 2nd 6-8 PM

MICHAEL KESSLER

I have for 45 years been a very process-oriented artist. My surfaces are built up layer-upon-layer and I have experimented with a myriad of painterly applications. I am constantly discovering new and exciting ways to lay down stratified color.
Watercolor paper is specifically designed to receive wash in a very particular way. My new paintings are built upon a papered surface that is roughly textured and highly absorbent. Layers of water-based transparent color are built up to create varying degrees of densities and tonalities which have a diffuse or smoky presence. The result is a field of softly out-of-focus marks that suggest a forest in half-light partially shrouded in mist and fog. These areas are contrasted with parts that are tightly focused and highly textured which appear as closeups of tree trunks or rocks. I call these paintings “Focusfields”.
 

press release 3

In Shifting Filters, internationally acclaimed artist Michael Kessler debuts an evocative suite of paintings on panel and canvas, and a separate selection of mixed-media drawings on paper, which juxtapose luxuriant impasto with ethereal washes, integrating the teeming lushness of nature with pristine geometric rigor. A natural-born innovator with a passion for inventing and refining tools and techniques, Kessler has worked with watercolors and transparent washes since his teenage years—evolving those early experiments into the strikingly original painting process that lends his artworks their instantly recognizable style. These washes, laid down on exquisitely absorbent watercolor papers, are becoming increasingly integral, lending a smokiness or sfumato that contrasts dramatically with sharp-edged gestures in acrylic. His new series, Focusfields, is a master class in constantly changing filters of crispness and expressivity.

press release 2

A winner of the Rome Prize and a grantee of the Pollock/Krasner Foundation, Kessler has exhibited internationally, earning accolades from critics at ARTFORUM, Art in America, and ARTnews. His works are included in the portfolios of numerous private collectors and Fortune 500 corporations, as well as the permanent collections of institutions such as The Broad Foundation, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Vanderbilt University.Among his large-scale commissions are projects designed for the Hart Office Building (United States Senate), Torres Park Plaza in New Orleans, and private residences featured alongside his paintings in Architectural Digest magazine. As an art educator he has taught at the College of Santa Fe, Carnegie Mellon University, and Lafayette College.

press release 1

For Shifting Filters at Callan Contemporary, Kessler debuts a vivid new body of work created in 2020: variations on shades of violet, lavender, and purple—intensely saturated and rich with historical associations of this most regal family of hues. These paintings share with Kessler’s oeuvre a profound reverence for the natural world. His main studio is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but his second studio in southern Utah sits at 8,000 feet elevation, equidistant from Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, surrounded by 2-million acres of national forest. In that magnificent setting he hikes, cycles, and meditates, constantly scanning the landscape for images he holds in an inner repository of visual inspiration. Although the paintings are fundamentally abstract, the gestures and brushstrokes can also be seen as nature in microcosm: lichen, twigs, the bark of trees, veins of leaves, tendrils of ferns and flowers. “I immerse myself in the natural world every chance I get,” he reflects. “I have found that the more intimate I become with it, the greater influence it has in the studio.”

 by Richard Speer 

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Michael Kessler
Sundried
acrylic on panel
36h x 96w in

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Michael Kessler
Turned XXVI
35 x 35 inches
acrylic on canvas

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Michael Kessler
Turned XXVIII, 2021
35 x 35 inches

acrylic on canvas

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Michael Kessler
Turned XXVII
35 x 35 inches
acrylic on canvas

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Michael Kessler
gallery view 2021

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Michael Kessler
Treeclips IV, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

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Michael Kessler
Focusfield XXIII, 2021
acrylic on panel
40h x 60w in

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Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIII, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

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Michael Kessler
Focusfields XXXII, 2021
acrylic on panel
30h x 80w in

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Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIV, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

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Michael Kessler
small work framed, 2021
acrylic on panel

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Michael Kessler
Treehouse, 2020
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

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Michael Kessler
Aspeniced III, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 96w in

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Michael Kessler
Focusfields XII
acrylic on panel
48h x 84w in

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Michael Kessler
Michael Kessler
gallery view 2021

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Michael Kessler
Aspenwash II, 2021
acrylic on panel
80h x 60w in

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Michael Kessler
Sundried
acrylic on panel
36h x 96w in

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVI
35 x 35 inches
acrylic on canvas

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVIII, 2021
35 x 35 inches

acrylic on canvas

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVII
35 x 35 inches
acrylic on canvas

Michael Kessler
gallery view 2021

Michael Kessler
Treeclips IV, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

Michael Kessler
Focusfield XXIII, 2021
acrylic on panel
40h x 60w in

Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIII, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

Michael Kessler
Focusfields XXXII, 2021
acrylic on panel
30h x 80w in

Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIV, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

Michael Kessler
small work framed, 2021
acrylic on panel

Michael Kessler
Treehouse, 2020
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

Michael Kessler
Aspeniced III, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 96w in

Michael Kessler
Focusfields XII
acrylic on panel
48h x 84w in

Michael Kessler
Michael Kessler
gallery view 2021

Michael Kessler
Aspenwash II, 2021
acrylic on panel
80h x 60w in

Thumb-Show

Thumb-Show Thumbnails

Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIII, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIV, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Treeclips IV, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Focusfield XXIII, 2021
acrylic on paper on panel
40h x 60w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Aspenwash II, 2021
acrylic on panel
80h x 60w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Sepiagroves, 2021
acrylic on panel
12h x 18w in

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Michael Kessler
Treehouse, 2020
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Aspeniced III, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 96w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Focusfields XII
acrylic on panel
48h x 84w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Sundried
acrylic on panel
36h x 96w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Focusfields XXXII, 2021
acrylic on panel
30h x 80w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned VII, XXXIII, XXXIV, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVIII, 2021
acrylic on canvas
35h x 35w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVII
acrylic on canvas
35h x 35w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVI
acrylic on canvas
35h x 35w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned XXXIV, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned XXXIII, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Turned VII, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Inquire

Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIII, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

Michael Kessler
Clarification XXIV, 2021
acrylic on panel
77h x 55w in

Michael Kessler
Treeclips IV, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

Michael Kessler
Focusfield XXIII, 2021
acrylic on paper on panel
40h x 60w in

Michael Kessler
Aspenwash II, 2021
acrylic on panel
80h x 60w in

Michael Kessler
Sepiagroves, 2021
acrylic on panel
12h x 18w in

Michael Kessler
Treehouse, 2020
acrylic on panel
60h x 40w in

Michael Kessler
Aspeniced III, 2021
acrylic on panel
60h x 96w in

Michael Kessler
Focusfields XII
acrylic on panel
48h x 84w in

Michael Kessler
Sundried
acrylic on panel
36h x 96w in

Michael Kessler
Focusfields XXXII, 2021
acrylic on panel
30h x 80w in

Michael Kessler
Turned VII, XXXIII, XXXIV, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVIII, 2021
acrylic on canvas
35h x 35w in

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVII
acrylic on canvas
35h x 35w in

Michael Kessler
Turned XXVI
acrylic on canvas
35h x 35w in

Michael Kessler
Turned XXXIV, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Michael Kessler
Turned XXXIII, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

Michael Kessler
Turned VII, 2020
acrylic on canvas
48h x 42w in

“I immerse myself in the natural world every chance I get, I have found that the more intimate I become with it, the greater influence it has in the studio"