Von Lintel Gallery is pleased to present Trust in Me – an exhibition of new work by Brooklyn based artist, Michael Waugh. The exhibition marks the artist’s second solo presentation with the gallery.
Michael Waugh's beautiful drawings are composed entirely out of tiny, handwritten words copied by the artist over months of meticulous labor. The result is an elegant filigree of written lines, which coalesce into representational images. This calligraphic technique has its roots in the ancient tradition of micrography – but the artist pushes the limits. Waugh copies by hand bureaucratic documents and theoretical treatises that are difficult to read, dense with specialized knowledge and research. The images Waugh presents in this exhibition are pastoral and melodramatic. There is something deeply sincere and reverential in Waugh’s intensive process. Yet that intensity continually rubs up against his absurd humor, turning his own efforts into something Kafkaesque.
The dense texts that Waugh copies by hand contain ideas that cannot be simplified into 140 characters for social media or condensed into a one page summary. In fact, by caligraphically twisting these texts into images that are poetic and fraught, he resists simplicity, reminding us that context, history, and intention always exist outside of a text. Understanding demands knowing and considering more, not less.
The texts referenced in this exhibition range from a report on election tampering to analyses of economic oversight – all of which point to the sly humor of the exhibition’s title: “Trust in Me.” The most ambitious drawing in the exhibition, The Unraveling, shows a fallen horse, who looks on in distress, seemingly needing to communicate a message to a boy who rides off on another horse towards a house on a hill. In The Challenge and Best Practices birds appear to have a message to pass along, but the dogs who listen don’t quite know how to respond. The smallest works in the show portray men staring longingly and illicitly at each other. It’s a narrative from a closeted generation, a less tolerant world. These men are crafted out of the words of economist Milton Friedman, perhaps implying a logical slippage between laissez faire economics and personal freedom. When it gets down to it, Waugh’s work always turns on such slippages – such equivocations. We see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear. Facts be damned.
Michael Waugh was born in Cambridge, MA. He earned his graduate degree in painting from New York University in 2000; but he also has degrees in writing from Texas State University and history from the University of Texas. He has exhibited internationally for the last eighteen years and his work has been reviewed by the New York Times, Art in America and ARTNews. He is the recipient of awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Several of the works in this exhibition were created with the support of The Galveston Artist Residency, The Wassaic Project, and The MacDowell Colony.