Magazine article Artforum International

Christopher Michlig: Jail Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Christopher Michlig: Jail Gallery

Article excerpt

If the photographs that illustrate Artforum's reviews were still in black and white, readers could be forgiven for confusing Christopher Michlig's recent solo debut at Jail with an exhibition of early-twentieth-century Russian Constructivism. The flat collages, with their starkly graphic compositions, were presented in four groups of five, either hung at eye level or dropped to the floor and leaning against the wall. They included, for example, a sequence of near-empty monochromes, and another set densely packed with black rectangles. Additionally, five freestanding sculptures were scattered throughout the gallery, extending the design of one wall work into three dimensions. Michlig adhered to a given template throughout, allowing it to strictly delimit the course of his compositional play. The same irregular grid-work structure is scrupulously repeated throughout the exhibition, but by flipping, inverting, and rotating its various parts, the artist achieved a dynamic, immersive effect that ultimately subsumed the gallery and everything in it.

Michlig's wall works can be read as modernist city plans, the dark rectangular forms standing in for buildings, and the space between them for streets. When these shapes are translated into sculptural forms, the results remain tied to an urban vernacular, but now materialized into a range of autonomous structures suggestive of fruit stands, pavilions, turnstiles, and even that emblem of revolutionary Russia, the kiosk. Swiftly transitioning between graphic sign and material thing, a process of imprinting is gradually revealed, the workings of something like an architectonic DNA.

It is Michlig's palette of hot pink, lime green, acid yellow, and sherbet orange that clues us in to the ultimate source for everything on view here, bathing the totality of it in the neon glow of Pop's artificial paradise. …

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