Paris, London, Hong Kong presents Joliet, a solo exhibition of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Michael Genovese. "Joliet features a series of plasma-cut steel wall reliefs that explore the value of space, isolation, and stillness. The exhibition’s title references the Illinois city of Joliet, originally spelled Juliet, which is considered by many a small prison town. The connotations of the name (Shakespeare’s Juliet and the city’s reputation), raise a sense of longing and contemplation, and the tension of restraint. Genovese’s works resemble large cracks along the gallery walls, causing a consideration of the confined space and the perimeters, therein. The weighted steel works are the culmination of historical fractures, political, and popular culture references, which Genovese traces and removes from their original context and repurposes for his practice. He employs a reduced material vocabulary as a means to quiet the mind and heal information overload. In doing so, he leaves the viewer in a contemplative confinement; left to confront their innermost thoughts, fears, and desires."
The Writing of History
Exhibition Essay by Shannon Stratton
“In university my friend, a former ballerina, discovered she had caused a stress fracture in her shin from working out too much at the gym. Sometimes described as a hairline fracture, I imagined watching this crack creeping across my friend’s leg like a sheet of ice crazing under my foot as my full weight came to rest on its cool surface. Or, to put the emphasis on the “stress,” I imagined my entire body slowly shattering when the weight of anxiety or fear or loneliness could be felt too heavily on my mind, my shoulders, my heart.
While I’ve seen cracks and crazes, and fractures and fissures, the imagining of the incident, the slow traveling of the fractures path as it tears, at a meandering pace, throughout he matter that it is dividing, has resonance. It’s a sharp pang in the stomach you let slip between your fingers the moment, the person, the place, and it falls away from your grasp for good. It’s an ache as a distance stretched out between you and a loved one when the last words exchanged drive you further apart and you both watch, dumbfounded, as this last breach gapes wider, it’s a twinge in your heart as you taste the bittersweet. It’s the distress that crumples the mind, fragmenting into a million little cavities that hold a million little details that can no longer be held together. It’s the sting of disappointment that splinters the ego, as bad news comes to rest. And it is also the stitch, that creeps down your side, marking a moment of exertion when your body feels the last burst of its efforts in a sensation that both severs and joins it, a sensation of both pain and triumph.
Is this what it means to suffer fracture? Is it only pain? An emotional rending that leers its way through nerves and blood and bone and flesh and heart and brain like a surge of electricity cuts through the sky? And why then, is it only sometimes beautiful? Lightening surely fills us with awe, but the soft crazes of a porcelain tea cup or the fissure that worms its way through marble, have a sense of history that soothes us, while the crack that bursts through plexiglass is an eye sore. The plexiglass is ruined, its purpose marred and impaired by the crack, but the marble has acquired more character. The fissure is at home with the gently worn depressions where a million feet have been given support as the beat a path to and fro.” Continue Reading ⍄
Exhibition Review by Monica Westin
“Michael Genovese’s linear wall reliefs mimic the everyday cracks in pavement, walls and other human structures that surround us; they also serve as traces and indexes of the less tangible fractures around us. His current exhibition at Paris, London, Hong Kong (the new gallery’s second show), “Joliet,” references the city that brands itself the “crossroads of Mid-America” and has historically served as both a railway transportation hub and a site for adult and juvenile prisons. Genovese, originally from Chicago, uses these local associations to his advantage, giving the slick, nickel-plated, mirror-polished steel cracks that crawl across the gallery space more political and historical weight. But the formalisms of the cracks themselves stand alone as repositories for abstract imagery from natural and invented worlds: like stitched seams, imagined lines of constellations, and uncanny growth of strange plant life, they seem filled with forces of gravity and grace, dripping down walls or attempting to scale and branch. The overall effect recalls Charles Ray’s famous declaration about “Hinoki,” on view at the Art Institute of Chicago, that he was trying to “breathe intentionality into” the found rotting log that he copied in a wooden sculpture.” Continue Reading ⍄