Michael Brown. Schematics and Silhouettes
7 Sep–12 Oct 2013 at Mike Weiss Gallery, New York
Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to present Schematics and Silhouettes, Michael Brown’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Employing rusted steel rods, oxidized copper, and graphite illustration, Brown presents a dynamic corpus of sculpture that reexamines our relationship with industry and culture in the vein of arte povera. At the intersection of art, science, nature, and architecture, these microcosms echo both cellular and solar framework, seemingly infinite and yet entirely self-contained. Utilizing nostalgia as a vehicle for retrospection and social awareness, each model urges mindfulness in a world of constant evolution – serving as remnants of history while pointing to our collective future.
In past installations, Brown presented banal household objects made from melted pop vintage vinyls by the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, as well as a Coney Island scene strewn with stainless steel lawn chairs and crushed beer cans. Addressing the socioeconomic challenges rooted in his own New York geography, these exhibitions brought to light cultural norms, modes of production, and populations now displaced, while tapping into a broader analysis of environmental impact. Now, in his newest body of work, Brown presents a collection of skeletal sculptures and three-dimensional wall-mounted tableaux that bring together the same minimalist aesthetics and formal qualities of design, refined in form but ostensibly didactic.
In prototype I, Brown’s perspective play pits common experience and collective memory against personal histories. Sourced from national park archives and executed to near photographic perfection, its graphite and ink sketchwork recalls the entrancing, textural paintings of Vija Celmins, rendering vast, untamed expanses of terrain. Inlaid with the same bulbous, dome-like sculptural forms found throughout the gallery space, the work envisions massive structures built into the landscape and recalls the synergetic work of Buckminster Fuller, perhaps embodying its own neverrealized blueprint. As the receding horizons of mountain ranges, rolling plains, and tumultuous oceans push and pull away from their sculptural counterparts, Brown explores notions of space, zooming in and out on our past, present, and future.