As a teenager in Riverdale, the Bronx, Michael Usyk was very influenced by the artist Hannelore Baron, who was the mother of a close friend. She exposed him to her work and her studio and loaned him books about artists such as Motherwell, Klee, and Dubuffet.
Usyk began his own artistic career as a videographer. In 1992, he made a film, “Balls,” acting as director, cameraman, and editor. This film documents the underground gay black “houses” and their competitive vogueing contests - a culture that, because of AIDS, was soon to disappear almost completely. He is also the subject of a film in which he discusses his artistic development and influences and talks about the paintings in his studio.
In 1993, Mr. Usyk joined the studio of an older sculptor. Learning how to weld there, he produced many unique, delicate metal pieces, originating colorful patinas for them. He was inspired by the colors of these metal sculptures and further influenced by the colors of Tibet, such as ancient monastery doors. He began to apply paint to paper and canvas, eventually experimenting with pigments, Alkyd resin, found papers, glue, wax, and other materials.
He was an artist in residence on an Artists’ Angel Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center in 1997 and 1998.
His work has been exhibited at Betty Levin, 41 East 57th Street, New York City; Le Bon Petit Diable Gallery, Boulevard Arago, Paris, France; Sergio Caballero Fine Arts, Southhampton, New York; The Pink Pony, Ludlow Street, New York City; Wooster Arts Space, Wooster Street, New York City; Musee de Monoian, Pittsburgh and New York City; Kerr Gallery, Fourteenth Street, New York City; and Charles Chamot Gallery, Jersey City, New Jersey.
His work is in the collections of many prominent collectors, including Kent and Jane Barwick, David and Barbara Krell, Leigh Weaver, and Jonathan Tisch.
Mr. Usyk has a B. A. in Renaissance Literature from The City College of New York. He is a self-taught artist.
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