|Michael Waugh, “Les régles de l’art,” |
2015, ink on mylar, 4 panels, each 102 x 42"
Michael Waugh's obsessively intricate drawings on mylar have a noble and ever-poignant central core — the troubling intersections of politics, wealth and power. Using micrography, transforming written text into representational imagery, he presents scenes both urban and semi-rural, as well as detailed portraits of horses, in a graphic aesthetic consistent with their late 19th/early 20th-century settings. Using texts from capitalist theory among other similar sources, Waugh's newsprint-like imagery is so finely rendered that it only breaks down into text under careful inspection. These are not mere formal exercises. The horses and human figures alike are depicted with an innocent charm that belie the ominous forebodings made apparent in titles such as "Crisis on the Horizon," or the spot-on word-to-text interplay of "Before Our Very Eyes." "Les règles de l’art," at 102 x 168 inches on four panels, is by far the largest piece, and also the most spectacular: a city street of perhaps a century ago stretches from a corner off towards a distant bend. The fourth building down from the corner is in mid-implosion, as if detonated from within, but only the horse-and-carriage faltering just beneath its collapse appears to register the dire circumstance; others just mill about. The work is too stylized to suit the literal content of Pierre Bourdieu’s book Les règles de l’art, (“The Rules of Art”) which explores the connection between art and the social structures within society by which art is produced and received. But Waugh's message and method execute a perfect tip-toe of a sneak attack.
Also on view are selections of Izima Kaoru’s large-scale, highly saturated color photographs from the series "Landscape with A Corpse." The photographer depicts moments of death as imagined by his super-star models. In each staging the model is dressed in high fashion, albeit sometimes covered in blood. The magnificence and power of the industrial and natural landscape depicted in the photographs, in many cases, dwarfs the figure whose dramatically staged death is thus insignificant in relationship to the architecture (Von Lintel Gallery, Culver City).
Michael Shaw / Jody Zellen
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