MICHAELGENOVESE-Chasing.jpg
Posts in Reviews

The Monocle Arts Review
Exhibition Review by Francesca Gavin


 Orientalism, Mobile screen grab, .png, 2017

Orientalism, Mobile screen grab, .png, 2017

Robert Bound: Tell us about Michael Genovese’s pieces. This one I feel in doing some preparatory note taking, I did need to be talked through it. Maybe you can fill me in.

Francesca Gavin: Genovese is great, I’ve been a fan of him for a long time. He is originally from Chicago and now he lives and works in Los Angeles. This show is an interpretation of the play on the history of abstraction and also touches in with the idea of how we use our phones. What he did is he looked up different words on his on phone, let’s take the word “guilt” and before things turn over and you’re using google image search you’re presented with these colored, cubic shapes and he’s translated that into these very finely made paintings. So, its very much about a translation of technology from one medium to another, but also at the same time, how do you reinvent our relationship to the abstract in a way that’s contemporary and interesting and has meaning, and I think he does it really well. The format of the paintings echoes the same kind of ratio of the actual format of a phone screen, so very much like, narrow and tall. Michael Genovese’s work at the moment is touching in on this heritage of Josef Albers or Ad Reinhardt, and this history from the 1960’s that’s being given new meaning in a contemporary context.

Robert Bound: What you’re looking at is neither one thing or another, its seems like a very contemporary/ futuristic take on the great subject of so many classical paintings; a sunrise or sunset, it neither here nor there, do you know what I mean? Do you get a sense of nature with this or does these seem exceptionally digital and machine made, not the images themselves, but what Michael Genovese is referencing?

Francesca Gavin: What I really like about this work is that there is a real physicality to it. It feels like it’s an object, it doesn’t feel digital, it doesn’t feel like something clinical in that sense or digitized. You really feel like someone has painted it, which I think is quite important and interesting. Personally, I am really fascinated about our relationship to screens, which I think is very different from our relationship to say television or movies, that kind of cinematic heritage. I think now we have a much more intimate relationship to the screen.. Continue Reading ⍄


ArtReview
Exhibition Review by Larry Wilcox


 Intervals, Installation view

Intervals, Installation view

When the Dallas Museum of Art installs its Piet Mondrian collection, the result is illuminating. The museum has enough work, made over a long enough period of time, to allow one into the artist’s head, to see his particular form of pictorial reduction. In the world of popular Mondrian (in which his work is found on coffee cups, cupcakes and Yves Saint Laurent dresses), it is easy to forget the moody plein-air roots of the artist’s blocks of color and black lines. Mondrian painted liminal moments, when the fading sun threw dark shadows and stark contrasts across a row of trees. Analysing moments of transition or in-between spaces was how Mondrian attempted to show the structure of vision. 

Michael Genovese’s new paintings recall Mondrian: they offer the grids of colour, perfect surfaces and hard-edge look that made Mondrian a force not only in art but in design. However, Genovese’s grids do not derive from the crepuscular, but instead from moments of transition found online. Specifically, he finds his abstractions through a Google Image search algorithm, which fills (only for an instant) a browser grid with blocks of colour just prior to the full loading images. The result is a momentary abstraction, a visual stand-in for whatever topic that brings a person to Google. If one’s computer has a fast connection, this intermediate Google space may be impossible to see altogether.

Using a screenshot, Genovese matches the color of the grid exactly. The searches that he uses to produce the the colour grids from Google are suggestive and romantic on purpose; words like ‘guilt’ and ‘pessimism’. Genovese paints the resulting grids on canvas, using accumulating layers of gesso and urethane until the surface is flat, pristine and glossy. The vertical works are slightly larger than a door and installed close to the ground; they are human scale, large enough to contain a viewer in their space. As evidenced by Elation (2016), the paintings offer a sober view of their subject matter. The colors seem pleasingly matched no matter whether the search was for ‘astonishment’ or ‘rage’.  Continue Reading ⍄


Shards of Hope
Exhibition review by Daveen Koh


 Lines and cracks and zebras and horses, Installation view

Lines and cracks and zebras and horses, Installation view

“Visitors to artist Michael Genovese’s solo show, Lines and Cracks and Zebras and Horses, at the OHWOW Gallery in Los Angeles have cause for concern — massive, silvery cracks run along the otherwise pristine gallery walls. The room appears to be on the verge of crumbling. These fault lines are not really chasms (although you can never really be sure about these things in contemporary art). They are more like casts of chasms, memorials to anything that might take on the form of a line, however sacred or banal. Accompanied by a book of line-dominated images, notably a thunderous herd of zebras, the impossibly reflective sculptures are arresting for their scale and symbolism. Each sculpture is the convergence of disparate worlds: Pompeii frescoes meet Metallica; a crack from an Iranian Mihrab dated 720 A.D. fuses with a mortar line from the vicinity of Castillo de San Marcos in Florida. Looking at them, it’s entirely appropriate to feel like you’re in the throes of an earthquake.

 Installation view

Installation view

In an interview with Genovese explained that his work is about “designating value” to fragments of life. Whether it’s staring at stray hairs in the bathtub or gazing at a historical landmark (a very loaded term, in the context of this show), these moments mean something because, in that instant, we are registering the things around us and trying to make sense of them. By turning a crack, usually associated with damage, into a sculpture, Genovese alters the meaning of the crack.”
Continue reading ⍄


Sign Language w/ Juan Angel Chavez
University of Texas San Antonio


 Installation view, University of Texas, San Antonio

Installation view, University of Texas, San Antonio

Organized by Kimberly Aubuchon

San Antonio Express
Signs of the times by Elda Silva

“Genovese is a sculptor, but his medium is social interaction. In an ongoing project, Genovese, who worked as a sign painter, approaches street vendors — mostly Latinos — offering to paint their food carts for “Lo que puedes pagar” or “What you can pay.” Genovese is generally met with varying degrees of mistrust, and sometimes outright hostility.

Genovese figures he “wins” maybe one out of 12 carts. His payment frequently comes in the form of fruit. Recently, he upped the ante on the project, building the carts himself and giving them out on the streets. “Sign Language” includes an example of one of the carts made out of lightweight aluminum panels with engraving on the baked enamel finish.

The show also includes aluminum panels Genovese has set out at different venues for participants to cover in graffiti — an etched record of hopes, aspirations, frustrations and confessions that range from the banal to the profound.

“The idea behind this is, ‘What would be different in San Antonio that people write down than people write down in Chicago. Aesthetically, it will be the same, that’s one thing. But the actual content — what is on here, what is not on here, what are people actually hoping for,” he says. “And the scope, we have from mentally challenged kids to artists to poets — it’s like the whole spectacle of society that gets captured on these surfaces.”

ARTLIES: Contemporary Art Quarterly
Sign Language at Unit B and University of Texas San Antonio
Ben Judson Issue #46

“Genovese’s work reveals an artist casting about—looking for different ways to incorporate his background into a contemporary gallery context. As a result, his contributions to the exhibition feel more like a survey than a focused body of work. At UTSA, a fruit cart reading “Corn Piraguas Chicharrones” in Genovese’s distinctive script shares the space with chaotic freeform etchings, leather impressed belts and a rack piled with signs promoting one of the artist’s previous exhibitions. The fruit cart is part of a larger project in which Genovese offers to paint (or repaint) the carts of street vendors for whatever they can afford, or builds a new cart and offers it to the vendor. In a talk at the opening he recounted how often vendors rebuff his offers, figuring him for a con man of some sort. When crossing cultural boundaries, an anonymous act of charity can often be viewed as a trick or act of condescension. Genovese asks strangers not just to buy his art but to have it emblazoned on the vehicle of their livelihood, mingling his professional identity with theirs in a way that demands a certain level of trust. There is a sort of antagonism in this act; the artist is daring strangers to take him at his word. What is not clear is whether Genovese intends to clarify a source of antagonism or demonstrate a kind of positive interpersonal dynamic through charity.

In other works, Genovese seems interested in taking snapshots of human behavior, be they aggressive, generous, intellectual or profane. He encourages viewers to scratch marks on blank metal panels—a kind of uncontrolled “permission” graffiti, which he later presents as an image of the community in which it was created. Completed versions of these etchings are on view at both spaces, along with blank surfaces to record the random thoughts of San Antonio’s art citizenry. This is a reversal of the carts: rather than asking to mark someone else’s property, he’s asking strangers to mark on his work—to mingle their thoughts with his professional identity. Ironically, this feels more like an act of charity than offering to paint fruit carts. I’m not sure that either action gets to the heart of antagonism or charity, but this is partly due to the fact that the exhibits do not fully commit to this exploration. Signs painted with phrases like “We’re all we’ve got” in different languages muddle what could be a poignant journey into social space.”- Ben Judson