The gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of the work of Mike Cloud. Cloud, a 2003 MFA Graduate from Yale University, combines a rational, algorithmic approach to composition and materials with an expressive, emotional approach to paint, gesture and collage, creating works that hover between these two poles. The resultant paintings can be abstract, organized into charts of letters and numbers according to the properties of paint, or covered in silver leaf, but they all trade in both conceptual order and bodily force. This paradox is also manifest in Cloud’s collages, which incorporate and recombine images from renowned female photographers. In these works the human body is endlessly put through permutations, revealing new forms and new social contexts. The paintings highlighted in the current show explore the physical properties of color and paint. In one series, the pigments and media have been categorized according to toxicity, drying speed, and paint film quality, and are arranged in a series of circular charts. Calling to mind work by Alfred Jensen, Jasper Johns and Kasimir Malevich, the charts are rendered in an uneasy, fervent style that seems to move them from the realm of the scientific to the realm of the visionary. In another series, paint has been applied with gestural brushstrokes and then covered with sheets of silver foil, so that only small fragments of paint show through the surface; sheets of Color Aid paper cut in various shapes are then pinned to the canvas, color-side down. The result is an uncanny combination of painted hues, luminous silver, and the ghostly reflections of the Color Aid. In these works Cloud contrasts the way color is transmitted through paint with the ‘pure’ transmission of color by way of (reflected) light. In Cloud’s work, what begins as a scientific look at the most basic of the painter’s materials is transformed into an object that bears the marks of metaphysical or alchemical processes. This can be read as a commentary on the nature of paint and painting, which throughout history have been put to a multitude of mimetic, communicative, and spiritual uses. While its humble origins are in the natural stuff (stones, metals) that surrounds us, paint can conjure the very heights of conscious, imaginative experience. Mike Cloud’s investigation into the physical qualities of paint brings this dual nature into focus, but his paintings also seem to transcend the physical and serve as documents of an elusive, emotional, even spiritual process.
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