Jon Michel
Monkey Paintings

Feb. - March, 2005

While Michel is adept with painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and digital imaging, this exhibition features a body of monotypes created during a creative fugue in 1997. A monotype is a one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet of metal or glass and transferring the still-wet-painting to a sheet of paper by hand or with an etching press. Monotype printing is not a multiple-replica process since each print is unique. Michel uses this technique to create spontaneous, improvisational drawings he calls Monkey Paintings that are, in many ways, the visual equivalent to speaking in tongues. According to Halsey Gallery Director, Mark Sloan, these paintings “contain an infectious energy that enlivens not only the surface of the prints, but also the room in which they are displayed. Michel has produced a remarkably consistent body of work referencing everyone from William Blake, to Adolf Wolfli, to Miles Davis.”

A native of Atlanta, Michel began teaching Studio Art at the College of Charleston in 1973 after receiving his MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. His works have been shown in many exhibitions nationally, including the Shidoni Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition in Santa Fe, NM and Nationsbank Center in Atlanta. He has received important commissions from the South Carolina Arts Commission, the College of Charleston, Fonderia Del Chiaro in Pietrasanta, Italy, and his statue of George Washington graces Washington Park in Charleston. Michel retired from the College in 2004 to spend full time in his studio practice.



Jon Michel
Monkey Paintings

Artist’s Response

Centrifugal energies
a fury of destruction
apocalytic visions
John Michel Monkey Paintings are so human in their desperate urgency
unleashing chaos
alerts the eye
the mind
fingers burrowing their path in the ink
revealing and concealing

“We carry within ourselves the bloody apparel of destruction”
Baudelaire’s words (from Flowers of Evil) resonate inside
in the heart of artistic creation and human destiny

Carcasses, ribs, bones,
skulls and gnarled limbs
a storm of scattered flesh
tendons, nerves,
muscles, exploded oesophages,
not so random after all
speed birth
the inner drama of life
when it battles for life

Blake, Soutine, Dali…
smiling in their tombs as they recognize themselves in
these Monkey secretions
so humanely desperate and yet so heavenly loaded

uncomfortable expressions for unconfortable images

by Bea Aaaronson

Community Partners 2017