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The Enduring Presence
Recent New York Abstraction
Sam Yates, 1996
 
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Michael Oruch creates refined, formal abstractions that contrast architectural shapes and symbols with the absence of form. After a many year evolution from representational to abstract art, his work is minimalist influenced and painterly. Recent paintings often focus on interiors and exteriors, sometimes as non-referential forms, or abstract doorways, gratings and other recognizable structures.

Figure and ground are worked and reworked in layers of brushed color, with particular attention given to light passages, “areas of nothingness.” In the large and architectonic Portal these areas are alternately perceived as deep illusionary space and divisions of a flat picture plane.

Dualities are present in Oruch’s work: everything/nothing; form/space; specific/ambiguous. Multi-layered refers to Oruch’s influences in addition to physically describing his painting surfaces. His work is informed by material objects from other cultures (especially textiles), their patterns, shapes, and presentation. “this…occupies the heart of his recent paintings; the margins are created out of an iconography and palette that are themselves marginal to most definitions of American art history…of Amish quilts, American Indian and African textiles, and Japanese domestic artifacts and architectural motifs.”1

Series and small works such as the twenty-five painting Runes series are a part of Oruch’s oeuvre as well. When viewed from a distance they read primarily as divinations of the alphabet/symbols they are based upon, 3 rd – 4 th Century Norse Runes. Numerous chromatic layers are discerned when viewed closely, in both figure and (often white) background. “The witch ground is not actually white, but a pale color, the result of numerous applications of subtle color, such as blue-white over yellow-white over red-white and so on.”

Each of the Runes is made to stand on its own as a complete work. It is also an elegant component of a wall installation of paintings, an entire alphabet. This series is non-objective, whether viewed as contemporary paintings or historical symbols, a reminder of our long history with visual, intellectual abstraction.

1. Simpson, David, Michael Oruch, 1994, Mindy Oh Gallery brochure, Chicago .