UNLEASHING INSTINCT: DRAWINGS BY MICHAEL K. PAXTON
The art of Chicago-based Michael K. Paxton offers a painted geology of forms created through floods of color washes. Paxton calls these works on drafting film “drawings,” indicating the “aggressive mark making” that he splashes and spatters over quick gestural lines. Despite the two-dimensional medium, his work is anything but still and flat. He shows the construction of form with lines emerging and disappearing underneath sheer drippings of color. In his larger works, Paxton uses a limited color palette that recalls the hues of flesh and blood. Once a figurative artist and a Stage 4 cancer survivor, his palette and layered color washes construct cavernous spaces of charging bodily fluids that clot in different places. The dried clots outline the shapes of dripstones that are sometimes pink, red, brown, or charred black. As soon as forms appear they disappear. Paxton’s art is unbridled animation. Some of his smaller pieces are in tones of blacks and grays with calligraphic lines that compose the likenesses of pulsating, living organs. Through these drawings on drafting film, he brings out the autonomous freedom of the abstract expressionists while applying the markings with veils of color seen in the color field paintings. Paxton has won many awards and honors, including the 2012 Air le Parc Fellowship in Pampelonne, France and the 2009 Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award.