Gregory Lind Gallery is pleased to present The Perfect Copy, a series of new works by Phillip Maisel. This is the artist’s first show with the gallery.
Maisel’s working process involves making precarious arrangements of materials in the studio. He selects accumulated objects, including building materials, studio supplies and photographs, things with histories that are just-perceptible in the physical wear and tear. After establishing the parameters of the composition, he then makes multiple adjustments – repositioning, introducing or extracting various elements – photographing each intervention in a sequence.
Shooting digitally allows Maisel to rapidly develop the iterative, impermanent arrangements. As he photographs each new composition, the resulting image informs how he will approach the next. “As I play with these various layers, new facades and materials are revealed as I allow others to fall,” he explains. “I am drawn to a sense of spatial uncertainty and shifting depth in the images I am creating.”
While the works can function as abstract, they are very much rooted in physicality and the possibilities that are inherent in the materials themselves. Elements used in various stages of photographic processes (color filters, glassine, and prints themselves) are integrated back into the artwork either as part of the sculpture or as collage elements that are later added to the print. In some of the works, Maisel cuts into the prints themselves. This re-working further shifts the spatial relationships within the surface and acknowledges the photograph as an object in and of itself. The final work lies somewhere between documentation of a sculpture, photographic print, and collage.
The exhibition’s title, The Perfect Copy, refers to the near-impossibility of creating a perfect replica, in that copies almost always lead to the loss or addition of information. Maisel’s works are explorations of this endeavor, which embrace the inevitable failure of the process. The works evoke the collage style of such twentieth-century Modernists as Kurt Schwitters, who incorporated waste materials picked up from the streets, parks, and industrial sites; Maholy Nagy’s assemblages; and Gyögy Kepes’ photographs. Maisel’s pieces are distinct in that they reveal the capacity for something to be transformed through the act of photographing it. Utilizing a few simple but precise gestures, he seeks to generate a sense of disorientation, meant to provoke a reevaluation of the relationship between vision and perception.
Phillip Maisel (b. 1981, Chicago) graduated from McGill University in Montreal with a BS in Psychology and from California College of the Arts in San Francisco with an MFA in Visual Arts. He is a two-time recipient of the Yefim Cherkis Scholarship for Photographic Excellence. Previous exhibitions include, Right Window and Southern Exposure in San Francisco; The William Benton Museum, Connecticut; Heaven Gallery, Chicago; and DeCordova Museum, Massachusetts. Maisel has lectured at the San Francisco Art Institute and California College of the Arts, and currently teaches photography at The Nueva School. He lives and works in San Francisco.