Like a child discovering the sandbox for the first time, I begin this work by seeking an ingenuousness that felt open to all possibilities as an unexplored pursuit. Discovering new symbols and relationships around me. Holding only a nonobjective agenda and choosing tools that were anomalous for the process of laying down material including the paint.
Finding a more primitive and exhaustive method to express my desires. Arriving at a context that feels refreshing to the political world around me. Piecing together forms that seem to have long coexisted. Like play-as-you-go, shapes and forms begin to collide and make interactions that feel undeniably ostentatious. Making a visual story through the history of marks.
I went out of the way to use tools that I found or made. I wanted the tools to provide a bit of a struggle with laying down the material.
Reconfigured II: Space Gallery, group exhibition, 2018
Inclusiveness: McNichols Arts Center, group exhibition, 2017
Refugees Welcome: Buell Theater, solo exhibit, 2016
"The Buell proudly unveils Michael's latest work, large in scale and a stunning addition to the Buell's galleria. His technique is centered around very loose origins, allowing chance and intuition to play the major role. He has delivered a series of exuberant paintings, in which abstraction and representation engage and coalesce into psychologically charged images."
- Rudi Cerri
Curator and Public Art Administrator / Arts & Venues
ReMARKable: Space Gallery, solo exhibit, 2016
Michael Gadlin takes the lead on the walls; he’s someone who actually exhibits all the time. The work included here covers a lot of ground, and the range is so broad that his section could almost be mistaken for a group show. The large paintings are the most important — not just because of their size, but also because of the ambition revealed in their dense, complex and heavily painted compositions. Gadlin not only does the kind of abstraction seen here, but he also works figuratively, as seen in the abstracted faces that make up his current solo at the Buell Theatre.
- Michael Paglia, Art Critic; Westword.
Entice: ArtsBrookfield 1801 California, solo exhibit, 2014
Look even closer — smarter — and you can link in Michael Gadlin’s recent set of oversize abstractions currently in the lobby of the 1801 California skyscraper downtown. He scavenges those same blackened forests for pieces of charcoal and uses them like paint, marking canvases with raw, dark lines and pools of gray that are incorporated with acrylics and ink into his creations.
There is something miraculous about the works by definition: He resurrects dead things, turning them into lively and infinite explorations of human consciousness, into the “eternality” of art, as he puts it in his statement.
But they also contain a narrative of important events in the West, less direct, though just as journalistic as the cowboy and Indian paintings of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell.
Today’s art has a freer hand. Fair to say Gadlin might have seemed a little crazy in Remington’s day. He is less concerned with precision and more with fervor and provocation. His canvases have a primitive quality, defined by overlapping lines and incomplete patterns. There is hardly a brush stroke on any of the seven giant canvases in the exhibition: He applies paint with fingers or chopsticks, or scribbles on them with a ballpoint pen.
Surely, there is structure to the madness. Gadlin happens to be talented at drawing, so his lines are amazingly straight and impeccably spaced when he wants them to be. There are no certain objects in the pieces, though his curves and shapes are clearly influenced by figurative skills. They are sensual and, at the same time, art-historical, with subconscious nods to pictorial traditions.
Their logic, and their appeal, comes from the arrangement of things. Scratches and shapes overlap to give his canvases a captivating depth; planes intersect and trade places. They are full of movement and, while they can be rough and assertive in their disregard for order, there is something tasteful about the way things come together; they feel like the work of a graphic designer whose imagination got the best of him.
Found Objects: ArtHaus Gallery, solo exhibit, 2014
Raw Marks: solo exhibit at ArtHaus gallery 2014