"The Wolf I Feed"
C. Michael Norton
April 30 - June 6, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday April 30, 2015 7-10pm
Buddy Warren Inc and Brian Morris Gallery
171 Chrystie Street
New York, NY 10002
From his essay “Over the Top” about Norton’s work, Stephen Westfall notes, “Norton’s color both explodes against and is grounded by the exposed linen grounds of his paintings, but the linen is also, simultaneously, spatially ambiguous and a material ground zero where the constructed nature of his illusionism is laid open for inspection.”
“The Wolf I Feed”: An old Cherokee says to his grandson, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person.”
The grandson asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Chance and choice. Meditative intuition and gesture. Finite structures. Exceptional acrylic explosions. Raw canvas and sculptural dialogue. Creation and destruction. Light and dark. Fate and intention. Pop and Fine Art. Death and the choice to live.
The story of good and evil is as old as humanity itself. The duality of choice and the so-called "coincidence of opposites" define the paradox. Painting can be just as destructive--decisions lead to madness fast and slow.
Some of C. Michael Norton’s paintings begin on his studio floor with their ear to the ground. Paint spills and splatters from the ones that began with such structure. Visitors to his studio walk across the raw linen. Life happens. Chaos reigns. He picks up the mess and makes sense of all that has gone on around and literally on top of the work.
Once stretched, the chaos becomes Norton’s sanctuary, and his painting begins. He uses trowels of various sizes to layer paint, sometimes over several years, to create order amid the tumult. There are moments that must remain untouched or masked, resonating with the outside energy with which they’ve been infused. The act of painting itself is a refuge from his own demons--no idle hands.
As we pass through the abyss we let go and sink into our fate. And as we pass the point of no return, sweet, sweet freedom. This work lets us go. Paintings even at their worst remain in their frames. We can step out into the sunlight in the morning. What has to happen in the studio to make sure that art remains a positive force? Norton’s paintings are about conflict but the act of painting is about joy.
Of the painting I’m Celebrating The Vastness Of Our Ignorance, Westfall says, “The warm ground of the areas of exposed linen allow Norton much more leeway to experiment with explosive, near dissonant chords of color, so that the chilly and acidic violet and white combinations, which seem to be popping off the surface of the painting on the left and coagulating like a bruise on the right aren’t simply (almost) too sour expressions of a spectrum palette, but an essay on stretching away from a middle value, earth toned base.”
This is C. Michael Norton’s second time exhibiting with Brian Morris Gallery and his first solo exhibition here. We are also pleased to announce that The Wolf I Feed has been selected for discussion at the artcritical Review Panel on May 29 at the National Academy Museum moderated by artcritical Editor and publisher David Cohen, with panelists Christina Kee, Peter Plagens, and Roberta Smith.