Artist Statement -

All my life I have been drawing images out of my imagination, without preconceived themes or using any reference material. My work has been described as undefined narratives, relating to human relationships in the context of society. Compositions are filled with figurative gestures, without any attempt to develop a narrative thread, it drives the viewer to find a completed story, however, an unscripted conclusion is what they will find. Title’s to my tales are literary allusions - commentaries, occurring after the paintings are finished and the storyline, to which the title refers is not a factor in the paintings evolution.

I describe my style as illustrative with intellect, sometimes showing opposites through thought and emotion. I try to balance both. I have always enjoyed the Expressionists Movements in art and my work reflects this. My painting technique is traditional. The mediums I use are oils, egg tempera on wood and wood cuts. Distinctive to my paintings are figures running, persons gesturing, eccentric objects, mysterious boxes, and usually one person in the background watching impassively. I lead the eye through a theatrical space walls and stages. Moving the viewer, with head movement, to pointed fingers, to a figure by a peculiar object, enticing the observer to ponder a logical conclusion, when there is none.

Art is an individual’s pursuit and gift of leaving something behind, artist are not immortal. There work can be. Any art worth leaving behind reflects the individual involved, we are all created unique souls, with a story to tell.

Artist Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

1999 Wilmington College Boyd Art Gallery, Wilmington, Ohio

1992 “New Works” held at The Dell Restaurant, Columbus, Ohio

Group Exhibitions

2000 Roy G BIV Gallery, Columbus, Ohio

1993 Burkart, Fornadley King Mixed Media, held at the Books Company, Dayton, Ohio

1993 “Of Environmental Concern Four Painters Perspectives”, held at The Acme Art Company, Columbus, Ohio

1992 “The Human Condition”, held at Rhodes State Office Office Tower, Columbus, Ohio

Juried Group Event

2018 “An Evening With Art”, held at the Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio

Juried Group Exhibitions

2017, 2016 The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, held at The Cox Fine Arts Center, Columbus, Ohio
2008 - 1994 multiple exhibitions The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, held at The Cox Fine Arts Center, Columbus, Ohio
The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition reviews and awards
2001 reviewed by Christopher A Yates, The Columbus Dispatch, Juror’s Choice Award
2006, 1999, 1997 Juror’s Choice Award
1996 2nd Best of Show
1995 reviewed by Eva Heisler, The Columbus Dispatch

1989 - 1996 multiple exhibitions The Columbus Ohio Art League
The Columbus Ohio Art League Exhibition reviews and awards
1996 held at For Hayes School for Visual Arts, reviewed by Kay Koeninger, The Columbus Dispatch
1995 84th Annual Exhibition, reviewed by Jacqueline Hall, Columbus Dispatch
Museum Purchase-Juror’s Award
1995 Spring Exhibition, Juror’s Award
1995 Invitational, held at The Columbus Museum of Art, reviewed by Eva Heisler, Columbus Dispatch
1993 Invitation, at The Columbus Museum of Art, reviewed by Lesley Constable, Columbus Dispatch
1992 Fall Exhibition, reviewed by Jacqueline Hall, The Columbus Dispatch
1992 Winter Exhibition, reviewed by Lesley Constable, The Columbus Dispatch
1991 Spring Exhibition, held at The Columbus Museum of Art, Juror’s Award

1998 Expo XVII, B.J. Spoke Gallery, Huntington, New York, reviewed by The New York Times

1999 1998 Northern National Art Exhibition, Rhineland, Wisconsin

1991, 1993 1989 Liturgical Art Guild, held at Shumacher Gallery Capital University, Columbus Ohio
1989 Award of Merit


Artist Publications

Art Reviews

-1998 New York Times Newspaper
Expo XVII B.J. Spoke Gallery, Huntington,Long Island, New York
One of five winners of the cooperative gallery’s annual international juried show
Juried by Jane Adlin, research associate in 20th-century art at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan, New York.

“Michael Fornadley, a painter from Pickerington, Ohio, labors under no illusion of plausibility, since his quirky tempera tableaus depict the odd antics of characters acting out improbably confrontations in a theater of the absurd.”

Jane Adlin, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Juror’s Statement:

“The winners of the B.J. Spoke Expo 17 competition share one important and enduring quality even in their diverse art woks - that is the ability to convey an inner strength, a conviction and belief in their art. It is brilliantly felt in . . . highly evocative story paintings of Michael Fornadley. .
The ability to make the viewer feel and share in that strength which the artist portrays, is a gift which each of these men and women possess.”

-1996 The Columbus Dispatch Newspaper, reviewed by Kay Koeninger
11th Annual Curated Exhibition of the Columbus Ohio Art League

“Michael Fornadley’s narrative paintings on wood owe much to the work of Max Beckmann, who frequently incorporated ambiguous psychological themes. Fornadley paints groups of figures interacting, often in disturbing ways that critique society. The viewer is confronted with the defining power of collective, rather than individual forces.

One side of the painting “Museum Piece 1993 shows an artist painting in a studio. Nearby, a figure points into a museum room on the tour side of the painting. There, a man in a tuxedo - is he a museum director, a curator or a critic - aims a cannon at the artist.”

-1995 The Columbus Dispatch Newspaper, reviewed by Eva Heisler

Biennial Columbus Art League Invitational, exhibited at the Columbus Ohio Art Museum
The work was selected by Mimi Young of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York

“Fornadley’s gestures, . . . are a curious combination of restraint and histrionics.”

“The paintings on plywood feature a large cast of characters engaged in actions that, for the most part, remain inexplicable. In “Original Sin”, couples carry green tables while a man dressed in a devil costume motions to a woman to begin their chess game. A child has pointed his toy cannon at the devil’s back.

In “Pandora’s Box”, a woman has fallen next to the hospital bed, under her arms an ambiguous white form - possibly a drawing or a map. The man in the bed gestures toward two men running with a box. One of the runners points to something beyond the painting’s frame, while another man points toward the sky.

The figures in Fornadley’s paintings are highly theatrical in their gestures - pointing, running, clutching odd objects. This theatricality, however is in marked contrast to anonymity of the bodies. Figures are seldom distinguishable from one another.

The often expressionless faces are rendered with black line. Black also outlines the bodies, whose pink tones are modulated with orange. The artist’s tendency to stumble orange and yellow over darker colors gives the predominantly gray paintings an odd yellow cast.

Fornadley’s paintings look like illustrations, but they do not yield to explication. The artist deliberately, and at times quite masterfully, leads the eye through a theatrical space. Moving from turned head to pointed finger to splayed body and mysterious object, we assume ourselves to be embarked on a narrative that at any moment will yield its logic.

The titles, often drawn from the Bible or myth, confirm a sense of urgency. A painting, “Original Sin”, is assumed to be allegorical, so the viewer may ponder the relationship between playing chess and eating forbidden fruit.

But Fornadley’s paintings employ a host of narrative gestures without any attempt to develop a narrative thread.

Similar gestures and poses are used over and again in paintings. There is nearly always a figure running. At least one person, often several, is pointing. Objects, tables, paintings, mysterious boxes - are in the process of being moved. Other objects are hoisted or clutched - an infant’s coffin, a chalkboard, a mermaid. and at least one person is in the background, watching impassively.

The artist admits that the titles - while often literally allusions occur after the paintings are finished, and that the narrative to which the titles refer is not a factor in the paintings’ evolution. Because of the structure of a Fornadley painting, one is driven to find a story. The story found, however, will be the effect of storytelling gestures rather than their source.

This is a significant difference, one that contributes to the strangeness and success of the paintings. Fornadley’s work acts as illustration but adds up to painting.”

1995 The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition
Jurors: Barbara K. Gibbs, director of the Cincinnati Art museum Irving Lippmann, executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art and Duane Michaels, an internationally respected photographer.

“Notable paintings include Michael Fornadley’s narrative work”

-1993 The Columbus Dispatch, reviewed by Lesley Constable
Carte Blanche: Columbus Art League Invitational held at the Columbus Ohio Museum of Art
Juror: Internationally known artist Ann Hamilton

“Fornadley’s “Turtle” is a masterful composition that successfully combines the many elements he likes to juggle, including grappling with opposites such as the diptych faux diptych format, crumbled surfaces and dark cryptic narratives. Unlike many other claustrophobic works, this one is comparatively open and uses high contrast to forward the narrative. Its motifs are sails, boats on wheels one pulled by a small and stoic turtle, hence the title and beautifully painted figures. The palette in “Grave Image”, awash in upbeat green, is considerable lightened.”

-1992 The Columbus Dispatch, reviewed by Jacqueline Hall
The Columbus Art League’s 1992 Fall Exhibition
Juror: Anne Perrigo, a ceramist from Seattle and visiting artist at the Ohio State University

“Figuration dominates the show. Its range includes . . . An emotion-packed realism in the egg oil tempera Victims by Michael Fornadley”

-1992 The Columbus Dispatch, reviewed by Jacqueline Hall
81st Annual Columbus Art League Exhibition, held at the Columbus Ohio Museum of Art
Juror: Ofelia Garcia president of the Atlanta College of Art and former director of the Philadelphia Print Cub

“To Kick a Yellow dog” by Michael Fornadley, with its mask like human faces, talks of indifference toward the mistreatment of the weak and defenseless.”


Artist Collections

Numerous private, corporate, museum, gallery and government collections detailed information coming soon.

Artist Favorites

Personal Favorites

Personal info and favorite links and sites coming soon.