In his extremely visually stimulating collection of “Figure Ground”, Philadelphia-based artist Michael Yoder introduces the audience to his work of compositionally varied representations of statues featured in Philadelphia. Complex with a myriad of striking colors – subtly changing with the movement of the viewer’s eye, differing points of view of the statue represented, and the mix of spontaneous, organic abstractions and carefully thought out geometric shapes, the pieces of “Figure Ground” generously provide a lush experience.
Yoder presents his work in a manner that challenges the viewer to comprehend the subject matter of each painting. Straddling the fine line between abstraction and figuration, Yoder’s work gives freedom to the viewer of his or her own projection of a specific piece. “Figure Ground” invites the passerby to engage in an interaction with a piece, slowing down time in a timeless manner, which is now rare in our moving-image and social media filled society. Yoder’s oeuvre combines the past and the present by incorporating the aged statues of Philadelphia with methods of modernist abstraction and his own flair of use of Photoshop editing as well as digital prints.
~ Loralynn Ingreso ‘19
Gallery Exhibition Research Assistant
"Untitled (The Signer)" 2016 acrylic and ink on paper, 22 x 22"
Michael Yoder Artist Statement
My paintings deal with traditionally opposed ideas of painting (abstraction co-existing with representation and landscape versus figure/ground relationships). In my most recent work painterly images based on monumental statues found around Philadelphia (from George Washington to Joan of Arc) are made solid with vertical stripes that read as gradients or “zips.” Layered within these compositions are also abstracted outlines of a neo-cubist take on the statues (I’ve photographed each statue from 360 degrees and used several differing vantage points in each work). I’m interested in situating my work within the history of American modernist abstraction, but also, much in the way an artist like Albert Oehlen does, to integrate the digital and mediated world of the image into these abstractions.
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