new work:
Michael Rey @ Young Art gallery
till Nov 20, 2011

big gay heart
, 2011

primer, wood, steel 53 x 12.25 x 120 inches

Young Art Gallery, one of LA's defining galleries at the moment, continues to show some of the most interesting sculptures in a tiny gallery space tucked away on a small street in Chinatown. Michael Rey's latest works should be fully encountered.

Michael Rey’s shaped wall works and sculptures issue from an encounter between high modernism and traces of ’80s goth culture—a collision of nostalgias that mutually undermine each other. Rather than hold up modernism as a patriarchal presence against which to mount a heavy handed Oedipal attack, Rey treats it as a source of some of the diverse free-floating signifiers from his childhood, made meaningful associatively rather than through art historical reference. Eschewing any heroic anti-heroism, the artist opts for a playful reinvention of lost objects he knows to be culturally phantasmic. Although Rey’s objects can be (partially) read as exercises in de-sublimation, they are best understood as libidinal configurations always in the process of metamorphosis and which refuse any singular fixed meaning.

The 8 monochromatic wall works are panels entirely surfaced in oil-based plasticine clay. The peculiarity of this material is that it remains forever malleable even after its oil paint finish has dried. The resulting surfaces are epidermal in their fragility and suggestive of these works’ metaphoric permeability to their surroundings and to the viewer’s gaze, a permeability enhanced by the orifices that pierce their surface planes. The plastic quality of the clay, with its infinite capacity to accept impressions, hints at corporeal vulnerability while simultaneously evoking fetishistic display.

Young Art: 418 Bamboo Lane, Unit B
Los Angeles CA 90012