Critics’ Picks

Michelle Ross, Redress: With a Composure Periodically Fractured by Wailing (For D.R.), 2016, cotton, polyester, crinoline, hemp linen, spray paint, oil paint, digital print, graphite, 56 x 43".


Michelle Ross

Art Gym
17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy. 43)
October 11–December 9, 2016

For Portland-based painter Michelle Ross, the pictorial language of abstraction is formed in relation to the careful observation of physical gesture and its subsequent flattening and transmission through contemporary forms of visuality, such as print magazines and video. This is where Ross’s obsession with fashion comes in: Imaginatively transforming stretcher bars and their surfaces into a synthesis of good bones and material geometries, the artist paints on top of pages from W, for instance, or scans editorial spreads in order to blow them up and attach them to her canvases. Velvet, cotton, polyester, paint, plaster, and other media are stretched, folded, or layered atop these initial layouts, redacting representation. The works’ imagery sets the stage for “dressing” the paintings like a body; and if a painting fails, it’s stripped down and redressed later.

In Redress: With a Composure Periodically Fractured by Wailing (For D.R.), 2016, sheer and textured fabrics are fused with plaster and paint around a geometric portal of ombre satin. The residue of the work’s first layer and subsequent undress reveal stain-like expressionistic markings. In some places where Ross has ripped fabric away, raised scar-like edges reinforce the presence of touch and intimacy.

Her paintings often begin with small sewn-fabric constructions that she refers to as “prompts”—studies in texture and color that channel ideas into the paintings. Several are hung near their companion pieces in the exhibition. More than studies or accessories, they become a set of anecdotes for expanding the works’ style and beauty.