MICHAEL T. HENSLEY // long haul

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Gentle swoops of paint drip down airy, hovering polka dots. Colorful squiggles combat atop dark, somber streaks and disorienting grids. A single neon palm tree floats defiantly over a clustered abyss of energetic layers. All the while, echoes of similar past gestures may be glimpsed through the gauzy film of a nearly white horizon line.

Combining such disparate materials as spray paint, pencil, crayons, house paint, and aesthetic influences ranging from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art to contemporary graffiti, Michael T. Hensley’s work ultimately relies less on form than on execution. Often using previous paintings as a canvas, he both accumulates and scrapes away at his brushstrokes until new, hidden possibilities are revealed. Through this active disavowal of a determined image, the paintings come to possess a raw, fluctuating energy—susceptible to interpretation yet also revealing in their unrestrained vulnerability. Specifically, the paintings on view in Long Haul, his first solo exhibition at Nationale, may perhaps be seen as either enigmatic renderings of the present-day urban landscape or more cartoonish autobiographies akin to the work of Philip Guston. However, these readings remain unsure and what prevails instead within Hensley’s work is the simple action of painting, the mythical power of artistic gesture.

Born in Charlottesville, VA, Michael T. Hensley lives and works in Portland, OR. In addition to a background in sculpture and bronze casting, he received his BA in painting and printmaking from Portland State University in 1998. His work has been shown at Mark Woolley Gallery, Russo Lee Gallery, and Blackfish Gallery in Portland, OR; Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA; Sandler/Hudson Gallery, Atlanta, GA; as well as on Tri-Met bus shelters and Outside/In exterior and interior murals. It is included in the permanent collections of the City of Portland, the City of Seattle, OHSU, Microsoft, Twitter, and Ralph Lauren. Hensley is represented by Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle, WA; Sandler/Hudson Gallery, Atlanta, GA; and Costello/Childs Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ and Denver, CO.

On view September 14–October 17, 2017
Opening reception Sunday, September 17 (3–5 p.m.) 

Notable Arts Events, The Portland Mercury, September 13, 2017


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