Michael Cutlip: Playland
The exhibition is accompanied by a full color catalog with essay by Susan Hillhouse Leask, curator of Art and Collections, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
Michael Cutlip makes artwork that adds a new and innovative voice to the art world chorus. Vestigial notes of Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, Street Art, and Neo-Expressionism play underneath the purity of his joyful and media-rich sound.
Cutlip is a Cubist at heart with a simultaneous vision that invites investigation and inspires experimentation. He erases the lines between painting, drawing and collage, and he does not look up to see if anyone notices that he has no idea where he will place his next mark or with what he will make that mark. As he works, he decides which materials are available and appropriate. He does not feel obligated to stick to a singular subject within the same artwork. Instead, layer upon layer, he recounts multiple narratives through the ancient form of stacked perspective.
As a twenty-first century Surrealist of sorts, Cutlip plays a solo version of the Exquisite Corpse game, thus keeping his process immediate and unknown, even to himself, during the progression of creating. Apparently random and appropriated animal imagery appears on a slightly abstracted, highly patterned field of color. Kitchen-wall yellow, tomato red, bathroom-tile pink, and the turquoise blue of old radios and ranges evoke the seemingly innocent 1950s in the not-so-naïve 2012 and trigger memories that, for many young viewers, especially the artist, are completely new and conceptually imagined.
Using the visual language of his time, Cutlip pushes, re-presents and builds on the planned spontaneity and serendipity practiced by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Robert Rauschenberg. Like that of the Neo-Expressionist/Punk Scene artist Basquiat, his art appears to be “unstudied” because he brings together so many different traditions to one stage. From Rauschenberg, Cutlip learned to “trust the process.” He says, “The process is essential. I work in the moment. In my experiences, a planned painting is a failed painting.” He continues to explore, experiment and mine the pictorial possibilities of color, form and the mundane, everyday symbols and objects of life within an urban/consumerist landscape and lexicon."