Mariane Ibrahim presents a solo exhibition in Paris by Ian Micheal entitled Intimités. The show will be on view from June 8 to July 22, 2023 and will mark the gallery’s second exhibition with the artist. Ian Micheal’s paintings depict moments, gestures, urban zones, neighborhoods, and communities, in California, within which he situates his painting practice.
The work has a strong interior focus, implying that his paintings are often set in comfortable interior spaces, like bedrooms or kitchens, small front lawns, and backyards, with figures displaying familiarity, intimacy, or close proximity. In an interview, Micheal stated that the figures in his paintings are large, in tandem with the human-scale of his paintings and can appear monumental. A cursory look at the installation views of his debut show at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery in Chicago reveals how much only three or four of his paintings could dominate a showroom space. Regarding his technique, Micheal aims to refine the canvas by often sanding the pre-primed canvas until it smooths out before applying paint. The effect combined with his color choices of cool veiled pink or rose pink as opposed to pink yarrow or bossy pink creates softness or coolness attributes that remind me of art historian Robert Farris Thompson, who defined these according to notions of character.
The general attitude of Micheal’s paintings reverts back to 19th and early 20th century portraiture. The focus is on the prominence of human figuration in the canvases, while the architecture serves as a limited yet significant background. Though this is a tendency evident in modern painters like John Singer Sargent, we can still witness the postmodern impulse of his paintings. To this effect, Micheal’s take on the Rose Motel in the city of Compton, can be outstanding with his particular usage of the veiled pink and rose-pink bathroom tile as a motif (it appears as an extension of the beddings) with the two figures lying comfortably on top of the bed. The signage of the Rose Motel comes into his paintings in a way that is integrated in the bedroom wall interior, rather than isolated in the car park and roadside exterior.