Michael Wetzel: Bu
September 5 - October 28
Opening reception: September 5, 6-8pm
The gallery is delighted to present Bu, a solo exhibition of new works by New York based artist Michael Wetzel. This is the artist's first solo exhibition at the gallery. Sculptures in frescoed plaster with inclusions of found seashells, pebbles, and colored plexiglass are paired with paintings on linen that superimpose landscape, figure, and word. They continue the artist's ongoing exploration of the experience and imaging of place.
The geographic reference point in this exhibition is Los Angeles. Wetzel incorporates elements of L.A.'s human-made and natural landscape into the form and material of his artworks, drawing upon his lived experiences in California, while working from New York. Each sculpture includes a geometric base and elongated torso, capped by a highly embellished head. Found seashells, the outline of canyons and shorelines, and the futuristic style of L.A.'s 1960s "Googie" architecture inform the surfaces of his sculptures, which rift on the classical tradition of bust portraiture, fresco painting, and Cubist sculpture. The paintings echo the hand-wrought architectural quality present in the sculptures. Made with charcoal, casein, and paper, they communicate a mood somewhere between stiffness and tranquility.
Equal to Wetzel's interest in place as experienced is his investigation of place as invented or imaged. By incorporating text into his paintings and sculptures, Wetzel creates specific associations between word and place, drawing simultaneously from the language of printed advertisements and the research of other artists who use text to direct the viewer's reading of a site (Aitken, Baldessari, Ruscha). For Wetzel, the use of text brings into play the corporate practice of branding particular locations in service of tourism or real estate - souvenir t-shirts, billboards, travel ads, or posters - and of associating a location with a particular mood to market other products. The title of the exhibition, Bu, points two ways, as the homonym for "Boo," a term of affection, and as the packaged nickname for Malibu, "the Bu."
Michael Wetzel was born in Mount Kisco, New York, in 1966 and currently lives and works in New York. Recent exhibitions include Standards of Living, Honey Ramka, Brooklyn, NY, 2017, NADA NY, site specific presentation by Jeffrey Tranchell, NY, NY, 2018, The Art Show/ADAA, Anthony Meier Fine Art, solo presentation, NY, NY, 2014, and Foundation Barbin Presents, Kai Matsumiya, NY, NY, 2016. Solo exhibitions include John Connelly Presents, LaMontagne Gallery, Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art, and Clementine Gallery. His work has been discussed in Artforum, Art in America, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, The New York Times, and Flash Art, among other publications. Wetzel received a BFA from Purchase College State University of New York in 1989 and is the recipient of a 2006 Deutsche Bank Fellowship.