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Michael Cusack 'An Image Seeks an Image'

  • Karen Woodbury Gallery Level 1, 167 Flinders Lane Melbourne, VIC, 3000 Australia (map)

Michael Cusack All my riches 2016. Mixed media on linen. 150.0 x 120.0 cm

Michael Cusack has built his reputation as a painter of shapes. Over the years this interest in painterly solutions has played out in multiple ways with subtle changes in composition and colour relationships. 

Recent developments in Cusack’s practice have seen a shift in focus from shape making to the corruptions and complications of the painted surface.  This development is part of his interest in painting’s role as both image and object.  As a consequence, paintings are cut, drawings are glued and sanded until they begin to fall apart; the liquid language of paint is exchanged for harder materials like cement, metal and wood.  Cusack’s love of shape making is not abandoned; rather, objects begin to appear like punctuation between paintings, acting as voids that rupture the limitations of painting. 

Through self-imposed studio impediments Cusack is tugging more vigorously at the relationship between ideas and materials, something James Elkins is concerned with when he asks how do substances occupy the mind?[1]  This recent concern for the importance of materials and the language they produce is in part fostered by a re-engagement with Samuel Beckett’s ideas on inexpressibility and the gap between meaning and language. 

In essence An Image Seeks an Image can be read as documentation of the transformation of perceptual experience into painterly form, an investigation of materiality through traditional and non-traditional means, to trigger some kind of opening or ensure an ongoing dialogue with his work.   

[1] James Elkins, What Painting Is, (New York: Routledge, New York, 2000), 96