As a visual artist, Michael Ross uses captured moments to trigger open questions; rather than telling a story, he presents the viewer with a snapshot that allows them to fill in the blanks, letting the story grow organically in the mind of the viewer. In doing so, Ross highlights the subjective nature of human enquiry. The possibilities are dangerous, menacing and at times eerie, as though each moment we are presented with is a knife-edge, a critical point stripped bare of context for us as viewers to examine and assign our own values and judgements to. Full of anxious potentialities, the imagery springs from a position of rage, of indignation, of social and personal unrest. The people he portrays occupy a dangerous, but passionate space. They are shown engaged in brute reality; self-absorbed and consumed by either the urgency of response to opposition or the motivation of their cause. The narrative tension is at a breaking point, Ross offers you a window into the critical moment and then steps back, how you interpret the work, and whether you do so with impassioned empathy, cold political discourse or secret fascination is entirely up to you. This is where the power of his work lies, not as mere social commentary but as a catalyst for introspective conflict.
Michael Ross was born in Ireland where he spent his teenage years drawing and painting. Immune to outside opinions, peers or fads, he developed a visual style inspired by personal influences which range from social traditions to street art, via 19th Century literature, American culture and protest songs.
His first art shows were self-instigated, unorthodox one-night events often shared with one or two other inexperienced young artists. Sponsored by various alcoholic beverage companies (and slightly more unlikely entities such as Mazda), these shows generated genuine response; his work had the power to elicit surprise, to create debate.
Ross continued to develop as an artist in style and theme throughout formal study at the National College of Art and Design Dublin and soon after graduation he moved to London and had his first UK exhibition at Wilson Williams Gallery. This was just the first of many regular exhibitions throughout Europe and the US. A move to France in 1994 saw Ross work in Paris and later Cannes, exhibiting at the Salons of La Malmaison. Travelling extensively, Ross settled in 2008 in New York where in 2009 his exhibition “the light bearer” was exhibited in the Harris Lieberman Gallery. Making the move back to his homeland, Ross returned to Ireland in 2011. Alongside his exhibitions, his design work in the film and music industries has further compounded his popularity and success.