Internationally renowned American artist Michael Ajerman’s chromatic paintings pair a delight in the haptic quality of paint with an instinctual approach. While Ajerman’s work may be enjoyed solely as a celebration of pigment, the human body and contemporary form, the pictures express at the same time, a sense of polarity, what he describes as a “divide between a nude and nakedness -and figures.” In his extensive oeuvre, Ajerman explores two beings: bodies and subjects within a single picture, functioning as a commentary on ideas of balance and imbalance. The artist notes “the figure and the body have the most interest, excitement, confusion and danger in the history of art.”
Ajerman masterfully combines this tension with a commitment to the structure of each picture. This highly attuned sense of space, paired with tactile handling of paint and direct yet complicated subject matter combines humour, reverie, and observation. As such, this highly personalised meeting of form, ideas and colour connects Ajerman’s practice to that of early twentieth century Expressionism. Stylised figuration stands in contrast to swathes of bright colour, angular and compressed space created with areas of dark shadow and vivid impasto. The artist acknowledges an interest in the work of the German Expressionist group Die Brücke, particularly Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s drawings, and the structure found in Otto Müller’s paintings. Nonetheless, Ajerman’s boldly direct work is thoroughly contemporary and distinctive in approach, expressing an engaged practice described as interpreting the “politics of emotion”.
Rosa JH Berland