IN THE STUDIO: Michael Schultheis

“Likening the canvas to a chalkboard, I create paintings consisting of layers of math equations and drawings that describe the form and motion of three-dimensional geometric shapes. Using this layering process, I explore form, content and the narrative that develops between them on the canvas – especially how human relationships can be represented in geometric relationships. With this vocabulary, I tell my stories in the geometry.” – Michael Schultheis

Michael Schultheis, Celadon 28 Euclid, Still, Video, NFT, 2021

Michael Schultheis has spent his whole career homing in on Analytical Expressionism— a self-developed method for intertwining mathematical language with elaborate visual motifs. His paintings engage in direct storytelling, where equations are worked out in real time alongside their corresponding shapes. The geometry itself mimics our own relationships and connections, functioning as a pragmatic framework to understand how people change and grow in a lifetime. For an artist working primarily in painting and sculpture, the element of time is rigorously highlighted.

His latest work, “Celadon 28 Euclid,” expands on the temporal element of analytical expressionism into the digital realm. The implied movement of Schultheis’ paintings comes to life in the video, where his traditional color palettes— deep blue, sea foam green, iridescent gold— collapse into each other around swarming, vinelike shapes. Perfect geometry unravels and swells just as mathematic calculations change their course as developed over time.

Michael Schultheis, In The Studio

“Celadon 28 Euclid” will be a part of our upcoming Winter group exhibition at WWFA Seattle, Here and There, which highlights the similarities and differences between digital and physical artwork from a selection of our artists.

Michael Schultheis, working on a sculpture

“Digital art opens a whole new set of tools to express my stories with projected light from the images. These photos and videos are created using generative AI, where I deploy machine and deep learning frameworks, then I carefully edit and digitally paint into them to realize the final piece.  I continue to expand their painterly quality in the fourth dimension of time with movement in the digital videos. This allows me to move freely between digital and physical realms, while creating entirely new worlds that feel both galactic and transformational.” — Michael Schultheis

Michael Schultheis, In The Studio

Schultheis expresses an interest in showing concrete truths through his thoughtful equations. Through using generative AI programming, he adds another algorithmic element to the work, where authorial power is partially given over to a neutral entity effortlessly working with his initial compositions. The video highlights a fundamental tenet of Schultheis’ work— the abstract, emotional response that can be elicited from objective, rational procedures.

“Celadon 28 Euclid” will be accompanied by one of Schultheis’ physical pieces in Here and There, which opens on December 8 and goes through January 22.

Click here to view more work by Michael Schultheis