(American, b. 1950)
After graduating from Concordia College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Michael Kuseske taught a year of high school art and soon realized that he longed to create rather than teach. Beginning with Florida landscapes and birds that fascinated him, and ultimately moving to large close ups of flowers for which he has become known, Kuseske’s oil paintings are distinctly sculptural and stylized.
My paintings reflect my fascination with and appreciation of basic elements of art. I'm attracted to the brilliance of spectacular color. I photograph my flower subjects in direct sunlight to capture not only that color but also the dramatic effects of light and dark that direct sunlight creates. I give my flowers form and substance, making my paintings very three dimensional.
In the late 1960's and early 70's, I was in high school and college. My interest in art began then and the current trends in art at that time made an impression on me that still affects my art.
Pop Art was in full swing; taking something very ordinary and putting it in an inordinary setting. I take flowers which are rather small and often viewed from a distance, and make them huge, allowing us all to see something we rarely get to see.
Surrealism also fascinated me, not because of the subject matter, which was often strange and nightmarish, but rather the style and technique used by artists like Salvador Dali and Ives Tanguy. They gave their objects exaggerated form and substance through the use of smooth shading and extreme lighting. Other artists, like Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton, and Diego Rivera caught my eye because they also used a similar technique creating form with shading and extreme lighting.
My daughter tells me that I do not paint flowers, but rather paint sculptures. She is right. It is not necessarily the essence of the flower that attracts me, it is the substance, the shape, form, and color. I want my flowers to come out of the canvas and make the viewer feel that they can reach out and touch them. The black background and the no-frame, gallery wrapped edge adds to that effect.