Michael Alan: Urban Interpretations
Inside Michael Alan’s Studio at The Active Space. All photos courtesy Dallas Athent
Michael Alan’s art is the type that screams. Each painting offers chaos on the page as lines write their own will and jump out at you, wrapped around figures and colors. His style is reminiscent of old New York – neons and graphics bringing us to the Bowery, draped in graffiti before people were paid to do murals. His figures display the spiritual color of the people that walk the streets, yet they don’t depict the streets themselves.
A close up of one of Michael’s work
His art cries out to not only reflect the faces of which he depicts, but to see through them. To pull the anonymity out of those of us who walk city streets each day. As he puts it, “New York is so much. It looks so chaotic. There’s buses and people dancing. It’s easy to make it into art, or not to like it at all.” I ask how he’s able to turn so many images, forced into you head into one. He talks about migration. “My art is all about movement.”
And this is movement we see. From sketches to t-shirts to large paintings, Michael is prolific, churning out what seems to be page after page of drawings and paintings. He never stops. There’s hundreds. The archives of figure drawings show me circles and bodies repeated over and over. It’s as if the life of the city flows through him, down his arm and into something tangible on the page.
It can be uncomfortable to to ask any artist about their work and why they make it, but he knew what I was talking about when I tried to express this to him. “I try to capture people. How they look but also an image of their soul, there’s so much energy in people.” And we see it in his paintings’ pigments. We see it in the manic etchings.
A detail from a page in one of Michael’s sketchbooks. Each book is filled with hundreds of pages of work.
Walking around his studio the cerebral landscapes and tones get me. Life blooms from the page and creates something in our true dimension. As soon as I turn to walk down the door I sense he’s going to sit back down and pick up a canvass to get his thoughts out on the page again.
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