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Paintings Dense with Mystery and Material Passion Plus a New Minneapolis Gallery to Watch

Earlier this month, the law firm Friedman Iverson—which serves, in part, arts and entertainment professionals—moved to new digs above the Red Stag Supperclub. The firm’s grand opening included an exhibition of paintings by Minneapolis-artist Michael Thomsen, some of them brand new. Perhaps best known, and championed by a devoted following, for his large-scale, sculptural assemblages, […]

Michael Thomsen, Firegarden. Courtesy of the artist and Friedman Iverson.

Michael Thomsen, Firegarden. Courtesy of the artist and Friedman Iverson.

Earlier this month, the law firm Friedman Iverson—which serves, in part, arts and entertainment professionals—moved to new digs above the Red Stag Supperclub. The firm’s grand opening included an exhibition of paintings by Minneapolis-artist Michael Thomsen, some of them brand new. Perhaps best known, and championed by a devoted following, for his large-scale, sculptural assemblages, Thomsen focused on abstract paintings of tremendous depth, mystery, and complexity in construction for this show.

The result, Nebular Hypothesis, is an excursion into a fascinating mind that’s curious and willing to experiment, to an extent that often seems extreme. His is an aesthetic that engages—no, it grips, grabs—viewers into the work, layer by layer, with a materiality so rich with possibility the result is whole worlds, a vision of terrain that speaks both to the past and a worrisome future.

Here’s are some words typed into my phone at the opening:

Topographical
Iceland
Bubbles. Bursting, Craters…filled in
Dystopia
Sawdust, Caulk
Some forms pressed in, butterfly, seashell
Whispers narrative realism
Underneath
Mounds
Cracks
Debris
Latex, etc.
Pearlescent
Objects pottery marbles letters

We talked about his process for a few moments: How each work requires time, and more time, as paint is applied, scraped off, allowed to bake and burst or crack in the sun. How any material can be useful to insinuate or ascribe memory, build additional layers of medium, add textures that escalate the conundrum — what, where and how?

Thomsen’s paintings aren’t abstruse in their abstraction and materiality. Rather, looking at them feels a bit like a treasure hunt. You may find in them what you bring to them, of course, but you’ll also detect recognizable objects buried beneath the surface debris. And then there are those earlier works in which “whispers of narrative realism” do add complications. This is work to be seen, studied, and seen again.

Throughout the year, Friedman Iverson will present several exhibitions in its office gallery space. Curator Christopher James, with input on this show from Kate Iverson (a long-time advocate of Thomsen, from whom her firm, Permanent Art & Design Group, has commissioned work), has made an auspicious start with Nebular Hypothesis. This office art gallery is one to watch.

Michael Thomsen, Asimov. Courtesy of Friedman Iverson and the artist.

Michael Thomsen, Asimov. Courtesy of Friedman Iverson and the artist.

Related information:

Nebular Hypothesis, paintings by Michael Thomsen is on view through November 8 during business hours in the offices of Friedman Iverson, 509 First Avenue NE, #2, Minneapolis.

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Camille LeFevre is a Twin Cities arts journalist and dance critic.

Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it. Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to editor(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)