The literal surfaces of Michael Pinchera's paintings have an almost single-minded concentration on shape and color and this evidence puts them decidedly in the abstraction camp. But Pinchera approaches abstraction from another angle. His paintings have pointed content, but for all their messages, they paradoxically reveal themselves slowly and continue to unfold in the viewer’s eyes and mind. The dynamic emerges from the fresh arrangement and convergence of shapes.

The content is grandly metaphysical and elusive. But, it is also deceptively simple. It might be called comfort imagery for it features, among other natural phenomena, flowers, birds, mountains and rivers, the sun and the moon. Pinchera’s art is about the different and ineffable realms of existence cloaked in these natural phenomena and the continuous, unseen movement between them.

Spiritual is the handiest word that comes to mind to sum up the paintings, but spiritual is often confused with religious and these paintings are not religious in any narrow sense. In fact, Pinchera’s body of work is not about affirming belief but the potential for opening oneself up to wider realms of existence. That Pinchera understands these are internal acts and that change is possible and every individual is indicated through the use of the common natural embodiments of the world around us.

Pinchera comes to this rich painterly territory naturally. He has been a teacher in Waldorf schools around the country. The Waldorf school movement was founded by Rudolph Steiner, (1861-1925), a philosopher, scientist and artist who could see beyond ordinary realities. Spirit is regarded as a component of personality as much as body or mind. It infuses ordinary life.

Pinchera meticulously composes his paintings by the laying down of thin layers of glaze. The resulting transparency is an effective analogue to universal trait of mystics to penetrate beyond a surface level that we can send to call reality. Such a process runs the risk of hardening into formula and losing the immediacy and vivacity necessary to communicate the esoteric but universally valid content. Pinchera avoids this pitfall by approaching each painting freshly.

For example, he treats flowers or floral shapes in different ways. Meditative Focus has stylized, flower-like heart shapes wrapped around a dark red cruciform on a dark green background. By placing the focus not in the center, where it would be in a mandala, Pinchera launches the dynamic: in life very few events lined up perfectly. The sheer simplicity of this composition is what makes it a trenchant vehicle for Pinchera’s thought.

Another painting doesn't refer to a flower in its title, but it might be read as one, manifesting the many folds of a rose. My Heart as a Shell, the title, exhibits Pinchera’s fondness for duality and the potential for transformation. A shell-like heart would usually be perceived as hardened, but he has painted an open form. These two paintings have different lineages. Meditative Focus has the direct mystery of Georgia O'Keeffe, and O'Keefe's influence, conscious on Pinchera's part or not, is pervasive in his evocations of the natural world.

The other influence is not a specific artist but a way of viewing the world; Cubo-Futurism is the current coinage for the closeness of the two early 20th century movements, Cubism and Futurism, that dissected material reality at about the same time Steiner’s ideas were becoming fully developed. Instead of dissecting existing material reality, Pinchera creates new realities which incorporate existing shapes or indications of shapes.

Pinchera is freshness of thought and experience can be best experienced by comparing paintings: the evanescence of Floating versus the complications of the labyrinthine Finding My Way. A Seed is an Eye, the Eye is a Seed is a full-fledged anecdote about transformation: in Between Gravity and Levity, using basic common abstract symbols, Pinchera forcefully illustrates the dedication to opposition, triangle, those small, is lazy and dance, while the spacious circle is full of air. It succinctly indicates the vibrant universe that each of Pinchera’s paintings expresses in its own way.

William Zimmer
New York City
November, 2004