One of Michael Lam’s earliest influences came from a Chinese herbal medicine book he saw as a child, its hand-illustrated manuscripts becoming a template for the images he now makes. Those works take the basics of calligraphy and transform them into compositions that mix graphic simplicity with open-ended forms. The bold strokes he uses to construct each painting have an air of freshness and spontaneity to them, but they are also the result of a meticulous process of thought and preparation. “Everything must be right the very first time,” he says. “I have to understand the properties of paper, ink and brush well before starting.”
Working in ink on board as well as paper, the artist lets the varying textures that ink can provide, from feathery wisps to liquid pools of color, come vividly across. That variety gives each painting a depth and sense of movement that contribute to their surprising dramatic power. “I hope my viewers can connect with the emotion contained in each one,” he notes, and their energy and style ensure that connection.
Lam has received awards and recognition for his work in NYC and Florence, and recently used his work to support the Aeiou Foundation for children.