Encountering the works of artist Michael Carini, visionary is the most apt adjective that comes to mind. The evocative transcendence of Carini’s potent style, a blend of abstract expressionism and an urban art aesthetic, is immediately apparent. Few artists working today embody the distilled purity of emotional expression in their work that Carini effortlessly exudes through his paintings. What sets the artist apart is his compulsive instinct to experiment: light, color and motion blend seamlessly through his work. His penchant for line and contrasting colors imbue his practice with remarkable sensuality. His works instantly appeal to all audiences and allow a chance for viewers to expand their senses and heighten their creativity. The most enduring of these features are on view in his current exhibit, Reign Upon Sonrise, on view at Martha Pace Swift gallery in San Diego, CA. Personal narratives weave in and out of the vibrant hues present amid Carini’s canvases. The surface of the works on view appear solid while contrasting colors intrude into the overarching vertical compositions. Images cannot reveal the secrets of these works: the combination of acrylic and spray paint creates a playful and eye-catching blend of materials on the artworks’ surface when viewed in person, revealing subtle variations. The works simultaneously invite and mystify as viewers can infer their own journeys into these minimal and systematic works: each work reveals unique stories to each individual.
Expression through personal enlightenment is a central theme found in the work of Michael Carini. His oeuvre exudes both personal narrative and higher purpose, harnessing the lexicon of abstract expressionism to create vibrant and meditative compositions. Carini focuses a trained and meticulous eye on approaching issues of identity and trauma. Trained in Los Angeles at the renowned Loyola Marymount school, under the careful tutelage of Jane Brucker and Roland Reiss, the artist was awarded special distinction during his studies – and all of this while the artist has spent a lifetime battling Tourette’s syndrome and Spectrum Disorder. The artist is an empowering inspiration for differently abled creative individuals, and to those among us who feel forced by the pressure to conform to society’s expectations. As the artist himself is fond to say, “don’t be afraid to be different…be afraid to be the same.” Carini eschews conformity in all its iterations, embracing controlled chaos in his practice.
Renowned musician Neal Peart once stated, “the master takes something impossible and makes it look easy.” Carini’s rock and roll attitude toward breaking down boundaries aptly echoes Peart’s statement as the artist reveals a mastery of the simplification of line, color and rhythm. The artist’s seemingly simple compositions actually require dedication, patience and complex planning. He systematically lays out his approach to painting before creating works that appear to embody the fleeting lightness of thought and the beauty of emotion. The artist brings a fresh perspective to a crowded contemporary art world focused heavily on referencing the art historical canon: by breaking free from the weight of history and forging his own path ahead Carini reveals his fearless artistry.
Continual innovation and visionary scope define Carini’s practice in that they do not set certain boundaries; rather, these elements inspire endless variations. His holistic tendencies have opened up his practice to a combination of interesting partnerships, including art therapy-focused Expressive Arts Institute, and have resulted in a synthesized creative practice encompassing new media works, photography, works on paper and even clothing design. The artist plays with pattern and design by transmuting certain recurring themes to alternative versions of each other. This process inspires viewers to imagine the world from alternate perspectives.
In addition to the aesthetic beauty inherent in Carini’s works, the artist’s own personal narrative enhances the impact of his works. After suffering severe trauma after being assaulted in his neighborhood in 2009, resulting in massive head wounds, the artist had a long recovery period. Both his cognitive functions and sight were severely impacted. As he began to recover, his works evolved into a passionate and invigorated re-examination into the power of inspired vision. His search for the sublime through his practice along with a renewed focus on perfecting his harmonious blend of color and line resulted in his inclusion into the Salazar Artist in Residence program in 2012. The artist’s significant development during this period, producing 500 artworks in a 50 day period, propelled him on toward a prolific output of artworks in recent years. Currently, the artist has notable partnerships with art galleries and creative outlets, including ADC Fine Art-Blink Art and ArtBlend. His work is easily distinguished by use of vivid color palettes and imaginative compositions.
The transcendental qualities permeating Carini’s work are boundless. He infuses his multitude of canvases with a heightened sense of expression. His deft touch recalls the revolutionary abstraction of Kandinsky and Rothko’s color field mastery in equal measure. The artist infuses geometric lines and cubes with evocative abstraction, heightening the impossibility of the spatial plane constructed on the canvas. The juxtaposition of clean lines and sumptuous color saturations displace the viewer and introduce new facets of reality. Carini masterfully opens the viewer’s mind to accept new possibilities, and to engage with the art historical precedents inherent to his work while welcoming the new and unique style he has pioneered. The self-styled “acrylic alchemist” uniquely combines an edgy and mystical style with a careful, practiced approach to reconcile with his unique sensibilities. Opening up a new lens to the human psyche, Carini’s combined exploration of color and non-objectivity interrogates established notions of reality and perception. By reorienting perception through a range of minimal and expressionist compositions, the artist transcends the ordinary, reminding us that the only limitations are those which we construct for ourselves.
Audra Lambert is a freelance arts contributor and independent curator based in New York City. Her articles can be found in Whitehot Mag, Art Nerd NY, Artefuse, Examiner and more. The author focuses on participatory and public art projects with an emphasis on emerging and established female artists. She is co-founder of alt_break art fair, a nonprofit art fair fostering dialogue between community-based social justice nonprofits and the arts. Currently completing a Master’s thesis in Modern/Contemporary Art at City College of New York, her curated projects and ongoing coverage of interdisciplinary art projects can be found on ANTE. (www.antecedentprojects.com), an online art platform showcasing contemporary arts and culture, which may or may not be secretly run by llamas on Mars.