Marc and Livia Straus first came across Michael Brown (b. 1982, US) when he was an undergraduate art student. He was a precocious talent whose sculpture was in the lineage of Robert Gober’s “hand-made ready-mades.” Michael’s work arises from some of the most banal of objects: discarded lawn chairs, mops, buckets and cracked mirrors. Notably, for his In the Meantime… series, he fractures plate glass and then meticulously reproduces the crack pattern in hand-cut stainless steel. These are stunning objects where the edges of the shards give off a diamond-like refraction.
Michael’s career was meteoric with one-person shows in Paris and New York, work in key exhibitions at David Zwirner and Zwirner and Wirth, several museums and other galleries, and was included in many prestigious fairs such as Frieze London, FIAC Paris, and Art Basel Basel Edition. Then circumstances intervened and four years ago Michael withdrew from the studio, only to return to making artworks last year.
His new body of works includes paintings for the first time. They exhibit a sculptural quality, related in part to the cracked mirrors, yet provide a complete departure into previously untouched territory. These profoundly beautiful and tactile paintings are made by laying a ground of 24 karat gold leaf onto the canvas on which oil paint is then applied in patterns somewhat akin to spider webs and thread. The gold shining through gives it a radiance, and the paint, usually white or deep blue, reminds a viewer perhaps of early works by Agnes Martin. Thoughts about forged works by David Smith, the drawings of Giacometti’s figures and Gego were in Michael’s head as well. In the end these are conceptual renderings all his own; formidable work that is both resplendent and uncompromising.