February 23 - March 30, 2013
Seeing the body and its needs as the driving force behind human society, Michael Tole has created a series of figurative paintings that are both literal and conceptual investigations of the world of the flesh. Tole’s paintings are tableaus that exist somewhere between a Jungian subconscious and a lived memory. The figures emerge from the canvas like half materialized apparitions from a digitized dream. The figures in Tole’s work smear across the canvass in time lapsed movement that implies ambiguous narratives in which figures seem to haunt and seduce the viewer, often engaging in indecipherable rituals that alternate between Dionysian indulgence and human brutality.
To create this temporal ambiguity, Tole combines digital and traditional technologies. “I begin with live models whom I light and photograph. I instruct the models to ‘not stop moving’ while I take long exposure photos of their actions, giving only occasional direction in a process that verges on automatic.” The artist then uses these photos as thumbnail sketches which he assembles into compositions directly on canvas. The resulting painting looks like a Vermeer made with a movie projector instead of a camera obscura. In addition to, or perhaps in spite of the clear imprint of digital photography in Tole’s paintings, they do not feel like 1970’s photorealism. In fact, they feel authentically Baroque in composition, motivation and mood.
Tole’s previous bodies of work included photo-realist paintings of Faberge eggs, Chinese bone carvings and paintings resulting from photographs taken of gift shop shelves at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Michael Tole earned a B.F.A. from the University of Texasat Austin in 2002 and an M.F.A. from the University of North Texas in Denton. Awards include: the London International Creative Competition, Shortlist (2008, 2010); Hunting Art Prize, Houston, TX(2007) and Anne and Arch Giles Kimbrough Grant, Dallas Museum of Art (2006.) Recent exhibitions include: the Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX (2011); Next Chicago, Chicago, IL (2010); Cain Shulte Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2009); New American Paintings, juried exhibition in print, Boston, MA (2009) and 10G Gallery, New York, NY (2008.)