Michael Dolen

Michael Dolen

The word “circus” calls to mind clowns and acrobats, lion tamers and painted faces, side shows and aerial acts. For me it also calls to mind the interaction of bright lights and dark recesses, difficult feats and a sort of giddy optimism. Always I think of “circus” as a word signifying performance, and in that sense it’s no surprise — not to me, at any rate — that my own recent work should have so much to do with circus images and the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes troubling aspects of a realm that is by no means innocent or childish. I regard my own paintings as “performance,” and hope they stir in viewers the sentiments of wonder and pleasure that are generated by works of art that are both controlled and extravagant.

Of course I am by no means a straightforward realist painter. I do not make pictures that tell stories. In my “Circus Series” I use props, and features drawn from the iconography of the circus universe to create visual or sensory effects. Some of my imagery is jazzily overwrought, some of it structurally intricate. I like to suggest that even the most obvious of circus-related figures — a brightly colored clown face, for example — can betray more than a single mood. When I paint a handsomely muscled acrobatic torso I want a body that is simultaneously literal and lyrical. The painted eyes of my portrait heads stare from, and into, a space that is elaborately orchestrated and animated. The signs and hieroglyphics that often punctuate the painted surfaces are to be read not as code-breakers, but as compelling visual ideas that complicate the performance without reducing it to a message or formula.

In some way the most obvious thing you can say about “circus” is that at its best it entails risk, and risk is everywhere in the work I have made for my new series. I’ve risked creating spaces that are sometimes loud with invention, spaces that can barely contain the action they imply, and I have risked nervy combinations of line and color where figuration yields to pattern, where subject matter dissolves into sheer painterliness. At a time when theme and story can seem central to painting in a way that would have seemed inconceivable when I was coming of age as an artist in era of action painting and abstraction, I’ve given myself permission to paint “circus” in the spirit of sheer performative exuberance, and trust that the determination to go my own way will seem — as it was — a risk I had to take.


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Michael Dolen - Circus Gala 1 Mixed Media on Foam Board, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Gala 1, 2018
Mixed Media on Foam Board
58" x 20"

Michael Dolen


Circus Gala 1, 2018
Mixed Media on Foam Board
58" x 20"

Michael Dolen - Circus Gala 2 Mixed Media on Foam Board, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Gala 2, 2018
Mixed Media on Foam Board
55" x 16"

Michael Dolen


Circus Gala 2, 2018
Mixed Media on Foam Board
55" x 16"

Michael Dolen - Circus Figure: Portrait 713P Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Figure: Portrait 713P, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Figure: Portrait 713P, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Circus Figures 819G Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Figures 819G, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Figures 819G, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Two Circus Figures And Friend 123A Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Two Circus Figures And Friend 123A, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Two Circus Figures And Friend 123A, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Bassa Nova Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Bassa Nova, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Bassa Nova, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Two Circus Performers Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Two Circus Performers, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Two Circus Performers, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Two Circus Figures With A Fan 584G Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Two Circus Figures With A Fan 584G, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Two Circus Figures With A Fan 584G, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Battle of Salamis Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Battle of Salamis, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Battle of Salamis, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Two Circus Figures On The Nile 313D Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Two Circus Figures On The Nile 313D, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Two Circus Figures On The Nile 313D, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Four Circus Performers 492N Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Four Circus Performers 492N, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Four Circus Performers 492N, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Day Train Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Day Train, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Day Train, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Three Circus Performers 452J Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Three Circus Performers 452J, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Three Circus Performers 452J, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - A Journal: Bits and Pieces Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall A Journal: Bits and Pieces, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


A Journal: Bits and Pieces, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Two Circus Performers 143F Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Two Circus Performers 143F, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
48" x 36"
$6450
Michael Dolen


Two Circus Performers 143F, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
48" x 36"
$6450
Michael Dolen - Circus Performers 913H Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Performers 913H, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Performers 913H, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Battle of Saratoga Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Battle of Saratoga, 2016
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Battle of Saratoga, 2016
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Three Circus Performers 177S Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Three Circus Performers 177S, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
48" x 36"
$6450
Michael Dolen


Three Circus Performers 177S, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
48" x 36"
$6450
Michael Dolen - Circus Performer in a Garden 769K Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Performer in a Garden 769K, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Performer in a Garden 769K, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Portrait: Circus Performer 571R Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Portrait: Circus Performer 571R, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 48"
$6450
Michael Dolen


Portrait: Circus Performer 571R, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 48"
$6450
Michael Dolen - Circus Performer: After The Show 932V Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Performer: After The Show 932V, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Performer: After The Show 932V, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Circus Figure on a Horse 872Q Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Figure on a Horse 872Q, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Circus Figure on a Horse 872Q, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Sunday in Saratoga Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Sunday in Saratoga, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Sunday in Saratoga, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Circus Performer with Profile 387F Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Performer with Profile 387F, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Performer with Profile 387F, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Circus Performer: Solo Performance 185V Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Performer: Solo Performance 185V, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 48"
$6450
Michael Dolen


Circus Performer: Solo Performance 185V, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 48"
$6450
Michael Dolen - Circus Portraits: Second Movement 874M Wood-Cut & Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Portraits: Second Movement 874M, 2017
Wood-Cut & Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Portraits: Second Movement 874M, 2017
Wood-Cut & Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 36"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Circus Performer with a Cat 238S Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Performer with a Cat 238S, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Performer with a Cat 238S, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen - Two Circus Performers and a Flute Player 752M Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Two Circus Performers and a Flute Player 752M, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
48" x 36"
$6450
Michael Dolen


Two Circus Performers and a Flute Player 752M, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
48" x 36"
$6450
Michael Dolen - Punta Marona Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Punta Marona, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Punta Marona, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Circus Figures 921V Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Figures 921V, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen


Circus Figures 921V, 2017
Mixed Media on Paper
24" x 18"
$5500
Michael Dolen - Circus Figure Swimming With His Icon 721E Lithograph & Mixed Media on Paper, Mixed Media View on a wall Circus Figure Swimming With His Icon 721E, 2017
Lithograph & Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950
Michael Dolen


Circus Figure Swimming With His Icon 721E, 2017
Lithograph & Mixed Media on Paper
36" x 24"
$5950

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