The New York TimesThe raw paintings of Michael Chandler are on the edge of an increasingly important current of abstract painting that derives from landscape and uses the kind of thick, ruddy color and heavy paint that is found in the work of Albert Pinkham Ryder. Chandler's works also bring to mind the lines and patterns of Jean-Michel Basquiat, although Chandler crams every inch of his canvases with paint. What distinguishes his work is his dark but fresh and luminous color, and his thoughtful but unself-conscious use of paint. In the strongest of these promising paintings, landscape elements slowly emerge and end up seeming inevitable. Colors become plants, grass, mesas and bodies of water, seen not the way we would see them in fact but the way we would remember them, perhaps in a city, completely removed from the natural world, when a landscape might come back so suddenly that it would almost knock us over. Like other current painters, Chandler tends to push the weight of his compositions toward the top of his canvases, which can make paintings seem to loom like cliffs. (Salvatore Ala Gallery 560 Broadway SoHo) By MICHAEL BRENSON  January 25, 1985

 

The New York Times: Michael Chandler's art is becoming more assured and persuasive. The latest abstractions by this American painter are rendered in the somber, sometimes murky palette he favors, but many of them are shot through with flashes of vivid color. Broad, looping, widely spaced brushstrokes, which recall the very different styles of Willem de Kooning and Gerhard Richter, crisscross the canvases. They often evoke thick grasses through which a viewer peers at ground level. Landscapes of one kind or another are implicit in almost all of the 15 works in the show. They suggest shallow spaces densely packed with activity. Mr. Chandler puts to use a gamut of Abstract Expressionist devices, like drips and splashes, to energize his images. Where he builds biomorphic shapes into the compositions, the effect is clunky and static. He seems at his best in canvases like "Two Songs," "Grin and Dive," "War Games" and "Wolf's Leap," where his gestural improvisations speak most vividly of risk and experimentation. (Salvatore Ala Gallery 560 Broadway SoHo) By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN January 10, 1992

 

ARTnews April 1992 Michael Chandler SALVATORE ALA: Michael Chandler's impressive abstractions in oil come directly out of de Kooning, but whereas de Kooning's paintings are indoor expressions filled with bright light, Chandler's are outdoor and overcast or twilit. They have a strong relationship with seascape, as indicated by titles like Sea-Lanes and Strange Shores. Both of these pieces draw on the energy of the waves and wind in establishing a gestural language. Others, notably Grin and Dive, suggest an underwater plunge, with undulating ribbons of paint recalling long strands of kelp. Chandler favors dark blues, browns, grays, seaweed greens: the surface of his work is smoothly varnished, often giving a handsome effect of Japanese design on lacquer. He applies paint in long, winding gestures, with medium or wide brushes. The high pressure and velocity of the brushwork is dramatic and controlled. The canvases are worth careful study. Wry humor appears in Snap, in which - against a stark background of black, blue and gray - a royal purple ribbon of paint performs an arabesque with great panache. Chandler's abstraction even allows for political comment. In WarGames a Desert Storm nighttime bombardment is conveyed by a tangle of huge up-and-down foreground strokes in gun-metal and Air Force blue, with a small shower of gold fire deep in the background. A single dollop of pink and liver-purple recalls injury and death. These paintings demonstrate that coherent formal statement in abstraction is compatible with other kinds of content, as though Chandler's interest in paint were inseparable from his interest in experience. By ALFRED CORN 

 

Flash Art May/June 1992 Michael Chandler SALVATORE ALA:

One after another, New York has seen a series of exhibitions which attempt to breathe life into abstract painting, both American and foreign. Inexplicably, the curators' rigorous selection for these shows has unvaryingly overlooked Michael Chandler, an artist who now emerges from a period of reflection and quietude. The new group of work presented here is exacting in it's sensual richness. A new discourse on the sense of painting is currently underway: a process which had seemingly come to an impasse has now found something allowing it to spread it's roots. In all likelihood this "something" is the "Quality" which results from the collision between subject and object. Chandler has allowed his work to expand within itself so that the painting's "mind" is kept from distorting its external perspective on reality. As a result, the spectator is not confronted with large-scale work but finds himself diminished into a deep, intertwined space which creates an apparently impossible chromatic range. The work's strength lies in transforming our perspective into that of an insect, of a worm. In this sense, painting assumes the fundamental role in contemporary discourse, leaving its guilt complexes to settle at the bottom of classical models. Probably this new spirit will be set free within an ethically void abstraction which is capable of reducing both artist and viewer to a dimension more proportionate to art and reality, to a scale outside the subject and inside "Quality." By FRANCISCO BONAMI

(translated from Italian by Gilda Williams)

 

JULIET January 1994 MICHAEL CHANDLER:

Since marks and color are two elements basic to man's expression, it is possible to think of Michael Chandler's abstract painting as the representation of a beginning: perhaps the origin of this world, recalling a very distant time, or the beginning of the next world, revealing the unknown future. If his works form the 1980's are reminiscent of earthly landscapes captured far from figurative convention, yet close to nature as we know it, then his most recent paintings certainly suggest more unfamiliar eras. Almost all the paintings are characterized by soft, ample curves that occur on an abundance of different planes until reaching far into the distance of imaginary vortices, hurricanes, whirlwinds and whirlpools of every kind, as if everything were moving, opening, and creating a new natural world, a new kind of primeval explosion which gradually orders itself into a system, a universe, a new form of nature. Sparks fly as molecules meet, melting into one another. Thunder preludes rain which in turn preludes green. The development is wet, quick, and intersects mineral and vegetable kingdoms. Shot through with vivid color, tones are dark, giving a general impression of shadow rather than light. With surprising tenacity, almost monastic rigor, Chandler has never left the scope of oil on canvas. In order to make a painting, today as in the Middle Ages, a composition is needed, as in every other means of expression whether in the plastic arts or not. Michael Chandler knows this well---his strength comes from his uncommon way of composing on canvas, compositions which find their power and renewal within the evolution of American abstract painting. By GRAZIA QUARONI (Curator for the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, Paris) translated from Italian by Joel Brody

 

HAMPTONS ART HUB March 30, 2013 Art Review:

Working the Line at ILLE Arts:  

Represented by small-scale collages, Michael Chandler continues with another level of amusement, perhaps more bemusement. Sober hues predominate these engaging, intriguing, harmoniously balanced pieces that entice the viewer to approach and explore each found image, juxtaposed text, and painted form or line. One senses a tragic-comic comment on the world being made in each work, be it social, political, or cultural. Perhaps they simply serve as formal exercises. I was drawn to Nose (2005), which portrays that human feature at center, superimposed on a black and white photograph of a bespectacled man –is it Marcel Duchamp?—at a microphone, another figure at bottom left, back turned, more of an apparition. A purplish wash of paint obscures the photograph slightly. If this is Duchamp, the nose is a synecdoche for the man who possessed a prominent one himself. The way the feature is rendered it also appears like his iconic Fountain from 1917. These small works are controlled, enigmatic, and charged. Chandler’s gestural painting style is evident in Chain (2012), the largest work displayed. By ESPERANZA LEON

 

WHITE ELEPHANT ON WHEELS January 22, 2013

Michael Chandler at Valentine Gallery:

Testosterone can wreak havoc on the road, but Michael Chandler’s driven art provides a stimulating dose of filmic action/adventure painting appropriate to an alumnus of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. You won’t get white line fever at this up-tempo exhibit. Painterly Ab Ex stud though he may be, Chandler somehow manages to avoid the pitfalls of Pollack tribute band clichés, and moves into a rarified realm of sweeping grandeur. These paintings draw you into a dimly lit region of mysterious origins; employing the classic “gaze” rewards the viewer with an eerily cinematic sensation of chiaroscuro. Who knows what creatures might emerge from this painter’s dark lagoon of a psyche? Although the paintings don’t make your typical abstract landscapes references, naturalism emanates from their indistinct core. These are not fussy compositions; they are thrown together with flair for splatter, but despite the pumped-up, gestural muscularity end up as nuanced compilations of radiant vibrations. The dichotomy of gung-ho enthusiasm coupled with sensitive brushwork, bring the picture plane a fullness and maturity pleasing to the eye. Chandler is one of those deserving artists who should have garnered more attention. Although he did gain some notoriety in the 80’s and 90’s, how work this ambitious and grand has not been more widely recognized is beyond me.  

By ELIOT MARKELL

 

ArtVoices Summer 2014

The Painter as Jack of All Trades: Michael Chandler:

Walking into New York-based artist Michael Chandler’s long-time Chinatown studio, the brilliant and multicolored painted remains of his luminous, large-scale canvases appear from floor to ceiling on every surface in the space. Like a painterly palimpsest, Chandler’s layers of splatters, splotches, dots, and dashes unquestionably indicate his unwavering dedication to artistic production and experimentation. From his enormous abstract paintings to his smaller collages, which maintain a stunningly similar sense of balance and depth and a singular artistic vision, Chandler’s studio provides a much needed dose of vibrant energy on a rainy New York spring day. Pulling out painting after painting, collage after collage, I spoke with Chandler about his artistic process, the connection between his paintings and collages, and the influence of his fascinating background on his art. Looking at the sweeping, swooping, looping, flowing, and curving gestures in Chandler’s paintings, as well as his studied and striking color choices, one sees Chandler’s intuitive artistic process on the canvas. It draws the viewer into his spontaneous visual landscape. Describing his creative process, Chandler says, “Other than the materials at hand, nothing is pre-determined, and the process is improvisatory. Essentially, I start by chance and build a painting from there, discovering it as I go along. The Tao reminds us that a good traveler has no fixed plans. The paintings go through a lot of stages, and each stage triggers the next.” Rotating his canvases as he paints, Chandler takes his time on each work—sometimes returning to a painting years later if he feels it is not yet complete. As he observes, “I often think that it’s primarily my nervous system that’s in control. I’m a slow painter.” In many of Chandler’s paintings such as the horizontally-oriented “Western Path,” Chandler’s fluid strokes almost appear to be landscape, hinting at organic forms, immersive layers of material and light corresponding to the natural environment. Explaining the relation of his paintings, as well as some of their titles, to his childhood in the American West, Chandler recalls, “I’m from Colorado and I grew up in Denver along the Front Range. Other than taking a road trip to Canada to visit my grandfather when I was young (my mother was born on a ranch in Alberta) I had never been outside of Colorado until I was 20. In my 20’s I was on the drift. I kicked around the East Coast some but for the most part was in the West. When I moved to New York City in 1980 at 30, I had been living in Montana. My visual sense is deeply informed by the space and light of the American West, and my gesture and image are founded in landscape.” Even though the Western landscape plays a large role in Chandler’s paintings, the cacophony and huge variation of movements in his work are also heavily reminiscent of the frenetic energy of New York City. As Chandler continues, “That said, I’m a city painter. I came to New York throughout the 70’s when it felt like a frontier town. It was exhilarating—the wreckage of the City in those days. Its movement and rhythm, color, and noise eventually found its way into my work.” Similarly, Chandler’s collages also draw from the world around him, utilizing bits and pieces of found material he has collected over the years. From a flashcard of a nose on top of a photograph of William S. Burroughs to an image of director Pier Paolo Pasolini torn from a poster in Sicily with a print of Betty Boop found in Los Angeles, Chandler’s collages act as a physical record of his travels, inspirations, and encounters. Questioned about the relationship of his paintings to his collages, Chandler notes, “I’ve always done collage alongside my painting. In a sense, the collages are a collaboration with the found images. In constructing them, I owe a debt to Kurt Schwitters and Robert Rauschenberg. I’ll make them when I need to clear my mind or take a break from painting. It’s work that I’ve kept to myself until recently. In a show last year, they were hung side by side with my paintings and seemed to make sense. Perhaps the collages are footnotes to the paintings.” In addition to the influence of Schwitters and Rauschenberg, Chandler’s artistic inspirations range from abstract icons such as “Kandinsky, Mondrian, Mark Tobey, de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock” to more personal, familial sources. Chandler details, “My father was a survivor of the Bataan Death March and a Japanese prisoner of war. He drew the daily life in the camps and did portraits of his fellow prisoners. I grew up with this material and started drawing at an early age with my father’s encouragement.” Like his father’s use of art to capture his wartime life, Chandler’s work subtly reflects his own captivating experiences. For example, Chandler’s studies with Allen Ginsberg at the Jack Kerouac School for Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University appears in his artwork through his lyrical lines, as well as his use of abstraction. As Chandler remembers, “At Naropa, I encountered the gang of brilliant, rowdy, subversive, and politically engaged poets who taught there, lead by Ginsberg, and they loved gestural abstract painting! Their example gave me the encouragement to go my own way.” In addition to the encouragement from poets at Naropa, Chandler has a uniquely varied and illustrious interdisciplinary biography—ranging from working on Christo’s Rifle Valley Curtain Project and Walter Hill’s seminal film The Warriors to evaluating mining claims leased from the Bureau of Land Management to the Anaconda Company in Montana to assisting Dan Flavin and even constructing installations at legendary nightclubs the Mudd Club and Club 57 with BOMB Magazine’s Mary-Ann Monforton. Asked how these various jobs and collaborations have affected his art, Chandler calls his diverse background “an education.” He reveals, “From my perspective, to be a painter is to be a jack-of-all-trades. The most you can ask for is to be aware of the world around you and that your work is an extension of yourself.” By EMILY COLUCCI  reviews<title>Contemporary abstract oil painting by the New York City artist from Colorado.</title><meta name="description" content="The images on this site are of selected artworks done over the past 25 years. They include paintings on canvas, paintings on paper, collages and ink on newsprint. There are 7 portfolios including reviews and a biography."><meta name="keywords" content="Mike Chandler,artist,abstract,contemporary,painter,Denver,University of Colorado,Stan Brakhage,Christo,Valley Curtain,Art Center College of Design,Los Angles,Chris Burden,Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics,Allen Ginsberg,Boulder,Philipsburg,Montana,Walter Hill,The Warriors,Lower East Side,Dia Art Foundation,Dan Flavin, Salvatore Ala Gallery,New York City,Milan,Italy,Michael Brenson,Michael Kimmelman,New York Times,Alfred Corn,Art News,Francisco Bonami,Flash Art,Grazia Quaroni,Foundation