Scaramouche is pleased to present a solo exhibition by artist Michael Stuart. “Contingencies” offers systematic abstractions that expand the gestural moment of photography. Evocative of constructivist and minimalist abstractions, Stuart’s practice breaks down compositional wholeness and medium-specificity into highly contingent components, reflecting on the relationships between representation and origin, the idea of the self and the body from which it emerges.
As the starting point for the exhibition, Contingence is a gridded series of photographs featuring cuts made both before and after the photographic moment; some are physically present while others are mimetic artifacts. Similarly sequential, the floating circles and squares of Stuart’s Circle Stories lose specificity as they are subsumed into contingent abstractions. In Zone System, Stuart takes as his source a technique to achieve optimal film exposure, breaking down a grey scale into a series of gradated tonal swatches with half as a photograph and half as a painterly response. Palette, meanwhile, reconstitutes Zone System’s painting palette as itself an aesthetic document. Photographed against the parquet flooring of the artist’s own apartment, the esoteric associations of painting are juxtaposed against their decorative, domestic counterpart.
Stuart’s video installation Screen features wind passing through a window in temporal reversal: one channel was shot during the day, the other channel shot at night. This piece calls attention to the ways in which the conditions that surround an analysis affect the nature of one’s perception. Rounding out the exhibition, Stuart’s own personal narrative is evoked with Adjectives, a painted photograph of an excerpt from a text about the artist’s father. Such an authored gesture puts painting and photography, abstraction and signification, in productive friction.
Michael Stuart (b. 1979, Nantucket, Massachusetts) received his MFA from Columbia University in 2010 and received his BA from Stanford University in 2003. Recent exhibitions include “Artists Who Play Well With Architects” at SUPERFRONT, Brooklyn, and “B-Sides” at 6-8 Months Project Space, New York. Stuart lives and works in Brooklyn.