Published on MichaelVickers.org, 27 August 2013
Vacillating between painting, sculpture and installation, Michael Vickers’ modulating forms develop an autonomous and distinctive visual language. Insistently remodeled industrial sheets of metal, folded fabric and molded plexiglas morph into artworks, as gradients of brightly-hued paint camouflage their unyielding surfaces. By relying on acts of negation, and investigating notions of inner and outer space, the compositions simultaneously convey familiarity and strangeness, weightlessness and mass, fragility and monumentality, playfulness and menace, completeness and provisionality.
Seeping art historical references, the works speak of the 1960s minimalist ideology, of Donald Judd’s finish fetishism and geometric impulses, of Richard Serra pouring and folding metal, and of John Chamberlain contorting automobile parts. Yet, Vickers’ engagement with independent themes and the obliterative qualities of matter lend his practice a unique position within the context of contemporary art. The calculated creases and folds – a palpable reference to Gilles Deleuze – are remnants of an interaction between the artist and his material, a depiction of the transitional moment of struggle before the medium yields. They eloquently recall the physical actions by which they were brought into being; and in this sense, never cease to exist in liminal space. Colliding with this facture element, a destructive impulse can also be perceived, as the act of creating oscillates between transformation and defacement. Arguably, this places the artworks within a realm of transgression, of George Bataille’s informe or formless, of sculpting and painting understood as a primal urge to mutate, disfigure, embellish and transform.
While their physicality arrests motion, anchoring the art in a specific temporal continuum, their chance placement within divers contextual frameworks points to the ephemerality of these captured moments. Needless to say, there is a claustrophobically tight circularity between the spectrums of time and space. Reacting to – and at times reflecting – the light and characteristics of their milieu, they transcends their function as mere objects. Hence, it is through presentation that the potential of matter is explored and meaning, attributed. Moreover, the insistent materiality of the installations firmly places the viewer alongside them in the gallery space. Seemingly dancing with the beholder, the pieces become the protagonists of a concealed narrative, as one’s perception and spatial relationship to the works develop the creative process.
Capturing a sense of urgency and immediacy, Vickers’ practice favors negation, provisionality and occluded beauty. More than a testament to artistic intuition, the works are, in the artist’s own words, a celebration of the seductive and poetic qualities of form.