A Little Shadow and a Little Light, MORE or less

It is common enough to be considered a universal experience, taking place within the realms of childhood, that when the sun goes down the imagination has full reign. The shadows that exist in closets or under the bed become dense, so much so that anything a little person could possibly imagine could exist within them. Eventually our brains become trained through experience that nothing need exist out of nothing and that the world provides us plenty to think about without the aid of our imaginations. That is unless you are an artist, and it is the best of them that possess the ability to capture and suspend disbelief, to bend light and shadow, to draw emotions out of the ether.

Installation View of MORE of less


Michael Maas |  Alhambra Confluence #123 | 33 x 48 inches | spray paint on panel | 2013


Michael Maas | Alhambra Confluence #130 | 18 x 24 inches | acrylic spray paint on panel 2014

The solo show of Inglewood based painter Michael Maas at the Brett Rubbico Gallery in Newport Beach is a case study in how subtle this manipulation can be – to the point where the viewer is participating in the illusionary process as naturally as a child painting with their mind in the dark. These 20 compositions span from a lovely shimmering blue/grey paired with white installed in the front of the gallery to deep cobalt blues and black as you walk towards the back of the space. Each painting conveying a subtle shift in what has become an iconic geometric play in Maas’s work.

Taken too hastily, one can miss the impact of this exhibition completely. The work asks for time to be spent with it. Each panel has been carefully created to open up to the viewer in a moment that becomes a completely private and unique experience.  They perform a kind of reverse osmosis on the mental landscape. Instead of being taken away from imaginative flights of fancy, the viewer is gently coaxed into one with not a whisper of reality in the form of any kind of imperfection to hinder the process. As an adult this kind of shift in perception is a delight in its rarity. Stand in front of each painting long enough and all at once the patterns that seem at first glance to be completely in sync begin to separate in an organic way.


Michael Maas | Alhambra Confluence #116 |  18 x 24 inches | acrylic spray paint on panel 2013

The artist has outdone himself in the effort of creating his unique patterns with the grace and believability of nature. His materials are humble, wood, tape and spray paint, so it must be understood that his contribution to the work is rooted squarely in time and chance. With each layer that Maas lays down of incredibly light mists of spray paint he takes a risk. That risk in application extends to the artist’s own private reveal created during the process of carefully removing the taped layers of shape that create the patterning in the work. One mistake and the process must be performed over again. In this delicate balance lies the true beauty in the entire series entitled Alhambra Confluence. Alhambra being a gorgeously tiled palace in Granada, Spain, known for its spectacular gardens (as well as a town in Southern California), and confluence, a word meaning the joining of two forces together. The push and pull of nothing vs. something can be rendered harmonious if one chooses to bring those two forces together in equal measure as Michael Maas has done with the binding agents being, imagination and skill.


Michael Maas | Alhambra Confluence #124 |  24 x 36 inches |  acrylic spray paint on panel 2014

The exhibit MORE of less can be seen at the Brett Rubbico Gallery through March 8, 2014. For gallery times or more information please visit brettrubbicogallery.com


Michael Maas | Alhambra Confluence #108 | 18 x 24 inches |  acrylic spray paint on panel 2013


One Response to “A Little Shadow and a Little Light, MORE or less”
  1. Laurie hassold says:

    Beautifully written piece on beautifully rendered Artwork..bravo!

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