Drips of pigment, Chearney insists, and demonstrates, must move not just our eyes, but our minds and bodies. They need not coalesce into pictorial suggestions… but they must challenge the conventions of picture-making. Peter Frank, Los Angeles
What messages/themes are conveyed in your work?
I hope: hope. Transcendence, that we can touch the divine in ourselves and the world, through and with art. It’s a mashup of Shakespearean themes, Disney archetypes and Renaissance light, with a modern spiritual energetic twist.
What’s the importance of color to your work?
Color speaks, to me and for me. It’s at the soul of my painting. I believe it can convey the energetic quality of the subject, its un-seeable heart, its highest being, its auric body through its vibrational patterns.
“Dress in old clothes.” The only direction I received when I was invited to join Michael Chearney in his art studio located in Downtown Los Angeles. Winter had approached and yet, as does often happen in Southern California, the sun decided it was going to encourage a little warmth and spring-like temperatures. Befitting once you see the colorful bursts spewed onto the once blank canvases now lining his single studio. It’s poetic, really. But before you head in, you are greeted with prose. You enter an alleyway lined with bricks and rustic tables, Edison bulbs streaming overhead, the sound of conversation and idle laptops, fingers tap-tap-tapping now flooding your senses at entry. The freshly brewed espressos permeate through the open cracks in the cafe door nearby. But there, standing outside wearing an unmistakable smile is Michael. Shorts, tee, tennis shoes, and paint splattered over each piece of clothing. Unapologetic, he hugs me and says, “I might still have some wet paint somewhere on me.” I hug him back and think, “I don’t mind, it’s ART!”
Life is fluid and alive. What is the most vivid moment you remember growing up of something you experienced that you felt compelled to paint?
It’s never too late?
After years in the advertising world, I became frustrated. I found myself leaving an advertising client meeting and going into an art store in Los Angeles to buy acrylic paint, brushes and canvas. Later that day, much to my partner’s astonishment, I hung a sheet in our master bedroom and started throwing paint around. I had no idea I was starting my second career, but I knew I needed to do something of greater value.
At a time when cool, conceptual detachment abounds in the art world, Mike Chearney prefers to work from the gut. His paintings, noted for their protean colors and dynamic application, are produced over periods of up to 18 hours straight with such physical vigor that, by his own admission, “eventually everything in the studio gets covered in paint.
Los Angeles artist Michael Chearney at work in his studio.