Friday, April 25, 2014

Figures and abstractions by Michael Kaniecki

The Weekly Volcano, April 24, 2014

Michael Kaniecki draws with authority.

Folks like me who have spent a lifetime in and around college art departments might say his figure drawings are like the stuff you see in every figure drawing class, and there’s some truth to that; but Kaniecki does it better than most. He has a sure stroke. It’s like there is an electrical current that runs directly from his eye to his hand. The proportions of his figures and their placement on the page are faultless, and every stroke of pen, brush or pencil appears to be effortless.

There are two basic types of figure studies in his show at Moss + Mineral. There are the very expressive, energetic and gestural drawings and the more studied drawings with slow, sure strokes delineating the contours of the body. The more gestural drawings are open, meaning the white space of the paper meanders in and out of the bodies. The more studied drawings consist of closed forms, be they parts of bodies or entire bodies. In both types of drawings he often uses areas of wash in ink or tempera that are superimposed over and integrated with the line drawings.

And although figures predominate in this show, there are other types of drawings and prints including accordion-folded scrolls large and small. The largest of the scrolls winds downward along one wall in an S shape with repetitive circular forms in tempera (labeled as tempera but looking for like sumi ink drawings in quick, flowing motions with subtle variations in tones of gray). And there is a group of smaller accordion-fold scrolls that sit on a table and are painted with architectural forms that appear to be city streets looked down upon from a helicopter. Against one wall there is a similar small charcoal and pencil drawing of an urban scene sans people and cars, and next to it a drawing of the underside of a highway overpass.

On the back wall is a suite of four prints made from charcoal. These are abstract images of circular forms in the blackest of black fading to soft gray edges. Called “Creation Story,” this four-part print is both explosive, like nebulae or amoebas or a depiction of the big bang, and soft and meditative like balls of cotton in black on white.

Moss + Mineral is a design store featuring jewelry, botanical art and other unique gift items including works by artist-owner Lisa Kioshita. It is a tiny space, but big enough for Kaniecki’s drawings and prints, which grace the walls and are stacked in bins on the floors.

This is an exciting show. You owe it to yourself to stop by and see for yourself. There are a lot of red dots next to drawings, meaning they’ve been sold, so hurry.
[Michael Kaniecki, Wednesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m., and by appointment, through May 31, Moss + Mineral, 305 S. 9th St., Tacoma, 253.961.5220, .]

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