Michael Kessler was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania. He received a B.F.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania in 1978. His awards include the Rome Prize for Painting from the American Academy in Rome in 1990, and a Pollock/Krasner Award in Painting in 1992.
Nature provides the basis upon which my work exists. Thirty-five years ago I began by painting landscapes, but through prolonged and careful observation it was the inner-dynamics of the natural world that grasped my attention. The questions of how and why nature looked the way it did began to drive my work. I began to sensitize myself to the natural processes that were responsible for the appearance of the natural world like sedimentation and erosion. Gradually my painting process took on the characteristics of these natural processes. I invented the process and that process created the images that became my paintings. The process involves the application of many layers of marks and skins. A sandwich of information is built up to reveal the passage of time and it’s own creation.
Structures both organic and geometric are laid down under and between translucent skins of paint. These skins are applied with a variety of trowel-like tools I’ve invented or adapted. The pressure used during the application of a skin determines the degree to which the underlying structures and gestures appear or disappear. Much of the initial painting is buried beneath subsequent layers of paint but remains visible to varying degrees. The main thing I want my work to convey is a sense of awe and wonder at the vast universe we can never comprehend. That is how I feel about the world we inhabit and those are the feelings I want my work to express.
Kessler’s work has been widely exhibited in the US and abroad, and has been featured in over 70 solo exhibitions since 1983. His paintings are widely collected and appear in over 20 museum collections in the US, including the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Kessler lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico