About the Artist:
Michael has Aspergers, which he believes accounts for his ability to paint proficiently and effectively without formal training. Michael's first 10 paintings have been displayed and sold in art galleries in 3 states.  Michael continues to evolve, develop his own style and progress because of an aptitude that he attributes to his Aspergers.  While Michael can paint like an artistic savant, he has other deficits; such as face blindness (inability to remember faces if they are “out of location context” or if clothing or hairstyle has significantly changed).  Michael can do complex math in his head, but cannot fill out forms, reports, schedules, or balance a checkbook.  Aspergers has its pluses and minuses.  Michael also says he has a tendency to be very, very, very verbal (Bluntly...Michael says he talks a lot).

Michael says his art travels between two paths; one more realistic and the other more abstract and soul based.  Michael usually begins by observing and reviewing a photo of a place, person, building, sky or a landscape.  The photo acts as a tool to isolate whatever interests him; and in the process, the ordinary will reveal something extraordinary about its place in his world.  Michael says these images provide the “bones” of  his work.  Michael absorbs the feeling of the image.  Michael says, the moment the connection is made; the colors explode onto the canvas, as if they are super charged on adrenaline!   Michael's paintings capture the essence of that moment; a feeling...a future.
Michael is strongly influenced by the Asian culture and his approach to his painting style emulates a “Sumi-E” artist’s manner of addressing his art form.  Michael's brush or palette knife movement is quick and almost manic, although the application of the paint is calculated, yet appears random on the canvas.  Color and emotions pour from the finished canvas to draw the viewer deeply into the art.

Artist Statement:
"Ultimately, I hope the paint on the canvas provides a doorway into my world and will capture my desire to touch another receptive soul."
Listen to Michael Tolleson's interview, on The What is Art? radio show.

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Comments by the Assistant Curator

Comments by the Assistant Curator

It is difficult to not be enamored by Michael Tolleson's paintings. He paints on the line of Realism and Expressionism letting his hands dance and feel the emotion, while he paints. The viewer can see his pallette knife at work and can only guess how the colors came together to make his works of art. There is a lot of movement in his work. On the way to the Louvre, Tolleson used the lines and colors to suggest the ladies literally on their way to the Louvre. Instead of making a literal painting of women walking on the streets of Paris, Tolleson gave permission for his viewers to imagine what that could look like.

Tolleson is not shy about his past. In his biography, he mentions that he has Aspergers and talks about other disabilities, such as face blindness. Tolleson gives art the opportunity to empower these disabilities. Face blindness could be leading Tolleson to creating such expressive works, where many of his figures do not have distint features. Tolleson is upfront of how he thinks Aspergers has given him the techniques to paint and embraces the medium to touch his viewers.

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