Michael Dowling, Denver, CO

I draw and paint on paper and canvas. I approach my work in a visual sense from a classical side. I am interested in the strength of the visual aspects of art from previous times and how and why that look can have impact in our time. I approach my work with elements of the classical
and the techniques learned while studying in Italy. That historical approach gives my work a look of the historical blended with subject matter of the hypermodern.

I work primarily in charcoal and oil paint while employing any medium that might challenge me to step away from my safe and practiced modes. I often work with spray paint and gold leaf both because they are somewhat unpredictable in my approach and because they introduce a range of color that makes me just a little nervous. I have a disciplined approach to drawing, giving myself assignments to complete a number of works within a time frame. That approach does double duty in using and expanding my technical skill while also pushing my creative approaches. In producing a small volume of drawings one after another, I am compelled to challenge my compositional structures, disrupt my imagery, and explore my subject from unexpected angles. My paintings similar to my drawings have the elements of classical approach, starting with drawing and layering paint to arrive at the image. In the process of painting, each layer has an opportunity to step away from the picture or the natural image. I often start with imagery referencing art history and begin to adjust the content to give it voice in our current time.

I allow myself to explore greatly with my work and let it inform me of meaning and content as much as possible. There are several themes that emerge throughout. At the core of my work is a great curiosity about stories that seem to repeat throughout lore and religion, with slightly different characters but otherwise strangely consistent. The stories behind each piece often have a sense of icon that fits somehow with my slightly euro-western motifs. Much of my recent work responds to a need to wreck the image with marks that are artistic only, eraser marks and blacked out areas that I like to refer to as redaction. In creating my characters and icons then blocking them from view, I believe I'm trying to ask each viewer to plug themselves into the missing information or complete the story of the piece for themselves. I think that I hope their stories might be even more bizarre than my own.

My recent work is a look at western icons. I'm curious about how we create gods and monsters from our surroundings. The icons of the west, mostly animal, have become my exploration currently.

Michael Dowling was born in Denver in 1972 and grew up in Colorado. He began drawing at a very young age but didn’t begin to study formally until the age of 24. After several years of study in studio practices, Michael sold the business he owned and moved to Florence, Italy, to focus on making art and expanding his skill. He completed his studies at Il Instituto de Art, Scuola Lorenzo de Medici in 2003 with focuses in studio practice and contemporary theory. While in Florence, Michael studied under the duo Rosenclaire (Rose Shakinovski & Claire Gavronsky) who continue to be his mentors and advisors. In 2003, Michael moved back to his native Denver and married his childhood sweetheart. They now have three children and drink wine constantly. Michael shows nationally and is represented in Colorado, California, Miami, New York, and Montreal. His work is in numerous private and public collections throughout the US and Europe.


Education: Studio Art, Contemporary Theory, Il Instituto de Arte, Scoala Lorenzo de Medici, Florence, Italy, 2003.

Awards & Honors: Top artist to watch, LA Art Show, Walt Morton’s Picks 2016; Best of, 21 under 31, Southwest Art Magazine, 2004.

Selected Publications: Top Picks from the LA Art Show, 2016, Huffington Post; Best Contemporary Realist, Best of Westword, 2016, Denver, CO; 21 under 31, Southwest Art Magazine, 2003, 2004.

Selected Exhibitions: Studio Show, McNichols Building, Denver, CO; Jam, MCAD, Denver, CO, 2009.

Selected Collections: Gucci Foundazioni, Florence, Italy; Long Beach Fine Art Museum, Long Beach, CA; Saks Fifth Avenue, Palm Springs, CA; Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, NY.

Representation: K Contemporary, Denver, CO.