Jason Miller – This place might be a shit-hole, but here’s joy and paint
I felt drawn to see Michael’s work from the publicity and I’m glad I did, there’s something rejuvenating about getting out and seeing what’s on. I thought the show was smart, the white cube (referred to the ‘grope box’) in the middle dividing the physical space and acting as something of an implied sub-conscious really worked. At first I assumed it to be an overview of a long career, but then realised these were all relatively recent concerns.
What strikes me is Michael’s willingness to look once and then keep looking at things that many of us judge quickly and don’t give a second glance toward. His work had me re-framing my own assumptions, tastes and predilections and looking further into his images for possible readings and trying to extend my view to meet his. I have been quite preoccupied with the niggling koan-like qualities of the show and have to settle with the ranging possibilities and paradoxes which, I guess, is what sustains its impact? Here’s unrestrained couture pink restrained in right angles. Here’s dead on bulls-eye black glistering with a reflected light on closer inspection. Here’s a square orange. Opera’s Bones is initially a black painting with colour sidelined. Then the eye settles and it becomes a close tonal study of black and brown with a fugitive light flaring where lines meet and a square softly modulating into something less graspable. A mutating rational form, it’s hard edges suddenly in flow with a chiaroscuro effect that could be over looked with a cursory viewing. It’s this restless dis-satisfaction that is so satisfying, the paintings are all facts, none of which can be ultimately proven. The openness to possibility and multiple reading generates potential trouble, but I love Michael’s clear, steady eye and what appears to be an innate ability to hold his nerve.
With Too Red To Die is that a square, is that the same colour. Yes and No. Depends how you see it. How do you feel about that?
Thaw. Is that a glacier, what is that structure, what’s happening there? Is that the interior or a reflection of something unseen? The light is beautiful, but is it real, is that shadow?
Here’s a loose, painterly cityscape of implacable facades and bland brutalist offices, here’s a modernist interjection, hard edged, and here’s a soft edged one too, here’s an incongruous reflection and here’s beautifully rendered daylight throughout. This place might be a shit-hole, but here’s joy and paint. Is this about nature shrinking and the failures and beauties of modernism? Is this an anomaly glimpsed and remembered? I love it.