Mike Cloud: Story Structure January 14 – February 11, 2006 | Reception Saturday, January 14, 6:00 – 8:00pm The gallery is pleased to present Mike Cloud’s second solo exhibition. Since his 2004 debut, Cloud has amplified and intensified the parameters of his practice; this show includes new, large paintings that fall predominantly into two groups: narrative “toy on maze” paintings and “caricature portraits.” Mike Cloud is currently exhibiting at P.S.1 in a solo exhibition running through January 2006. He is also included in Frequency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, open through March 12, 2006. The “toy on maze” works represent a significant step for Cloud, as they not only incorporate bold new sculptural properties, but also demonstrate openness to narrative content. Cloud has nailed brightly colored plastic figures from children’s games to wooden bars that in turn have been attached to the canvas. The objects are then surrounded by symbols (hearts, stars, clouds, pentagrams, lightning bolts), and letters, which are painted in the form of mazes in Cloud’s particular brand of physical, forceful brushwork. A major aspect of these paintings is a set of three freestanding works; each one consisting of a pair of facing canvases, connected and spanned by a single toy. In the caricature portraits, the paint handling takes on a central role, as Cloud has rendered portraits of friends and family members in the form of expressionistic abstract compositions over thickly painted grids. These works juxtapose objective and subjective approaches to understanding human personality and question the ability of paint to represent it. They also contrast differing approaches to abstraction, setting intuitive mark-making against the regularity of the grid. Cloud consciously eliminated the repetition of symbols, toys, and graphic devices within the work in effort to promote the paintings as elements of a larger narrative. Within this structure, he relates paint itself to human life. Cloud extends this idea to the analogy — “death is to humans as gravity is to paint.” As death is the culmination of life, Cloud suggests that paint futilely resists gravity. Further, he characterizes the portraits as efforts to make a painting stand beside its subject, rather than aiming to stand in for the person, given that the “personalities depicted have similar shapes” to the flattened globs of paint on the canvas. These uneasy, distorted aphorisms are symbolic foundations for agile and riotous works that resist categorization.
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