Jan Kaps, Cologne
People Puzzle07 June – 26 August 2018
Alan Michael People Puzzle June 7 - August 26, 2018
True we do is rooted in the energy of
culture and its ability to bring people False . Open False; where True , ideas and people meet.
A Unique Archive. This is the phrasing that a particular London-based cultural platform for contemporary dance music, primarily broadcast on the web, notes as having established for itself. A quick web-search of the three words returns a plethora of other unique archives, each as distinguished in its selection of information as the next. If we are to believe current art criticism, there is only the archive—that allows artists to continually draw from, to point to, to reference, or to even store their own art in, both plural and singular at the same time—but the difficulty with this, whether it is unique or multiple, is owed to the impossibility of confining information to a certain set of parameters, instead this often giving way to a closed group of favorites or pinned interests. Seemingly, then, a truly unique archive would be the collection of a completely randomized, and expanded, grouping of information.
The paintings of Alan Michael posit this as an experiment: to picture the city of London as a place where any and all thoughts may be spoken. But, going one step further, just in sync with information, to note the possibility that any and all thoughts have already been spoken within the city. This is not to say that the words or images remain in the past, but that they are a part of present-perfect state of becoming, of having been, and therefore changing, like the city itself. Often, the paintings of Michael get boiled down to either their photo-realist stance or the numerous cult references inside them, as if these references point to a specific history or idea. Instead, what should be imagined is that the culture surrounding these histories, by merely coming into contact with them, definitively change or otherwise alter the form of the original idea and impress onto a past that it too is not certain.
What remains, then, is a pure image—an image that does not so much attempt to represent an idea or frame a story as much as it simply allows the information surrounding an image to ideate upon something larger: the pressure of the city’s own pyschosis. Here, this is best represented by the proposed facticity of a photo-realist gaze, but, again, the parameters of the genre become uncertain when placed into the context of a conceptual language that is both fact and fiction, both fully aware and unconscious. Michael goes towards this latter ability by placing text into the paintings, often cropped or focused like the pictures themselves, to the point that their original meaning or form is lost or skewed and instead become a form of found statements that determine a completely new present for themselves.