Growing up in Massachusetts, Michael Quadland divided his after-school time between riding his horse and making his “constructions” in the basement which were sold in his parents’ gift shop. He majored in art at Dartmouth College, where he graduated with distinction in studio work. Wary of a career in art, he went on to receive a PhD in psychology from New York University and a Master of Public Health from Yale. With demanding New York City careers as a clinical psychologist, assistant professor of psychiatry at Mt Sinai Medical School, AIDS researcher and eventually novelist, he returned recently to painting. He now paints fulltime.
Michael works in acrylic on board, having developed an affinity for wood during the restoration of his antique house. He enjoys its varied surface, its durability, even its smell. The wood is first sanded and sealed, then gessoed, and finally layered with acrylic and glazed. He prefers the freedom of larger surfaces.
In his art, as in his writing and psychotherapy practice, Michael focuses on the expression of emotion. One of the things he enjoys most about painting is the process of putting feelings into visual form, having depended on words for so many years in his writing and psychotherapy practice. He has chosen a nonobjective format as a way to maximize imagination and projection, using abstract forms and strong, evocative colors in layered surfaces. It is difficult for anyone seeing this work not to respond with some sort of feeling. The layers and traces of his paintings contain secrets, he says, that can be revealed to the viewer over time. In this way, the work retains interest, is perpetually new.
The White Gallery, Lakeville, CT 2012
The Gunn Memorial Library, Washington, CT 2012
The square—four equal sides, opposite sides parallel and intersecting at right angles. Simple? Yes. Boring? No. What is more welcoming than entering a square room? Or a village “square”? Something feels right about it. A man’s square-shouldered suit–or a woman’s in the 1940s–is elegant. A square deal is a fair one. Square-in-the-center is right on target.
In this series of paintings, most on square canvases, Michael explores the form as an evocation, capturing some of its mystery and hypnotic quality, suggestions of the “more” that is hidden in the square’s deceptive simplicity. A trace here, a hint there, an aura, Michael imbues the square with poetry beyond its simple arithmetic confines. His layering of color provides the emotional impact one sometimes experiences in a poem. Under his careful hand, the square takes on the hidden life of a hieroglyph, sensual, yet unknown, telling a lost story that the viewer must decipher for him or herself.