In 2017 the divorced billionaire Bill Gross realized that the Picasso painting ‘Le Repos’ hanging above his bed was actually a copy made by his ex-wife Sue Gross years before. Replacing the original one with her fake, she took the real Picasso to auction where it fetched more than $35 million dollars. This ‘replacement’ of reality and its subsequent matrix-like revelation that 'not everything that is seen, is to be believed' is the backdrop to Michael Pybus’ third solo show at the gallery.
Pybus’ works spawn from a cloud of their own meta-manifestation. Images, characters, brands and franchises are irreverently spliced and reborn as iconoclastic memes questioning how we interpret and project values onto cultural and consumer paraphernalia. He dissects and remixes a plethora of iconography to create works which investigate and at times humorously poke at what we accept as the real, the authentic, the original. From his identity as an artist - the clichéd ‘original’ - to the hierarchies and identities we apply through our choices in likes, opinions, consumer goods and aesthetics, he explores the underlying scaffolding that supports how we come to view, value and contextualize the wealth of competing information, ideas and options we are subjected to every day.
At the dawn of the 21st century we find ourselves submerged in a transitory period where our analogue existence is being commodified, digitized and transported into the brave new world of silicon. The ‘old’ ways of understanding our environments are having to speedily adapt to the overwhelming array of new and unpredictable options today. Increasingly we see our lives play out in the virtual realm.
Recent unprecedented developments in the editing capabilities of software offered to the mass market on our handheld devices paired with today's pathological need to incessantly share images of life processed through filters, make it practically impossible to tell what is ‘real’ and what is altered, constructed and mutated. This barrage of augmentation has begun to erode as to what we accept and judge as reality now. As our digital networks continue to supplant our face to face interactions, we become an ever growing atomized population. Technologies are transforming from being tools to companions, and with this our appetite for a hyper flawless aesthetic that mirrors the gadgetry, booms.
Algorithms running on super computers tailor feed us streams of images based on the excessive amounts of personal data collected from our consumer behaviour as we absentmindedly browse, shop, tag and post. These data are continually refined to create a personal media landscape that begins to flatten out taste, aesthetics, decision making and intellectual complexity as the software continues to optimize the information and advertising to meet your every desire and prejudice. Occasionally it tries something new or makes a ‘mistake’ where your feed is infiltrated with an image or information not to your liking. It is in reference to this ‘glitch’ moment in contemporary culture that Pybus has chosen to expand his visual oeuvre into unexpected territories by introducing a series of paintings exploring new motifs questioning notions of ‘good’ taste, ‘pleasant’ content and ‘appropriate’ imagery installed amongst works which correlate with references more classically associated with Pybus.
Overwhelmed by an onslaught of information, opinions and images we are beginning to suffer from an apathy to reality. Overstimulated by data and ‘encouraged’ by the design of social media many people find themselves retreating into ever narrowing cultural spaces. We can now all curate versions of reality which suit the our personal biases and needs. As we become increasingly able to redefine what reality is then the traditional hierarchical value systems based around our collective interpretation of reality begin to crumble. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then it also appears that reality is now subject to the same modus operandi.
Michael Pybus (1982, UK) lives & works in London, (UK). He has a BA in Fine Arts from Goldsmiths 2004 and an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art 2008, London (UK). Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘soft play’ Lungley, London (UK) 2018 - I’m sure they have very different paintings on their own walls’, Jelato Love, Palma (ES) 2018 - ‘HIVE MIND’, Jonathan Hopson, Houston (USA) 2017 - ‘Pretend the world is funny and forever‘, Amor, Mexico City (MEX) 2017 - 'HOLLOW', Thierry Goldberg Projects, NY (US) 2017 - ‘PEAK HUMAN’, Depart Foundation, Los Angeles (US) 2017, -‘CRUMPLE ZONE’, Tatjana Pieters, Ghent (BE) 2016 - ‘Karaoke’, Carl Kostyal Stockholm (SE) 2016, - If it works, it’s obsolete’, Johannes Vogt NYC (USA) 2015. His work is included in the collections of Takashi Murakami (JP), Zabludowicz (UK), Philippos Tsangrides (GR), Popov (RUS) and can be found in private collections in the USA, Mexico, UK, Brazil, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Spain, Taiwan, France, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Australia & China.