Michael Cusack‘s paintings take us back into a time immemorial; of Irish land, it’s people and the topography that has embedded itself into the Irish psyche. Although he has lived in Australia for over 20 years - Byron Bay which is a divine place to live – Cusack is still using the visual language of Ireland; the muted colours, forms, spaces, in his paintings. It’s as if painting connects him to his homeland; the rocks found in the walls of the West of Ireland, the bogs, moss, lakes and wild, cold places.
Cusack explores this terrain using subtle graphic elements – derived from his interests in architectural blueprints, boat diagrams and the interlocking shapes found in building and technical drawings – that are almost symbolic, metaphorical, his markings drawn, rubbed, smudged or scratched, his gestures suggesting connections through which we create our own narratives. Here’s what he has to say about his work on his website:
Poetry and a graphic impulse represent the cornerstone of Cusack’s practice. The poeticism is both formal and conceptual. His palette, for instance, is usually confined to nuance, with fine shifts in a pale tonal range. And his use of haloed shapes and vessels can be particularly poignant. They seem vulnerable, fragile, and become vehicles of mysterious promise, keepers of secrets and stories; no two the same.
His is a compulsive mark-maker, routinely drawing throughout the course of building ground. Graphite elements are sometimes buried, or become translucent motifs as they are filtered through the washes of overlaid paint. More often, they are an openly lyrical component of the surface of the work. The marks also act as narrative keys, like the snatches of history that a pedestrian might gather from pavements, doorways and walls. It is no accident that some of his paintings, both in the chalky quality of the finish and the seemingly random marks, recall urban details. He photographs these as reference. He will even use framing bands of contrasting colour and/or texture to accentuate a particularly sensitive area of the work and so render it path-like.