Michael Schall at Pierogi

Michael Schall
Wall Cloud, Gallery 1
9 Sept – 9 Oct, 2011
Opening: Fri, 9 Sept 7-9 pm

Press Release

Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of Michael Schall’s recent works on paper. The drawings in Schall’s previous exhibition revealed the natural world and the man-made, industrial world often merging, and in some instances industry even seemingly attempting to rebuild what has been compromised. In his new works both realms have become so precariously balanced that they begin to mimic each other. A number of the drawings focus on the middle ground between these two realms, where the natural world seems so artificial, unpredictable, and reinforced, that it might be taken to be purely man made.

In one drawing, “Hoover Dam,” what appears to be a waterfall of light spills out through an opening in a bridge-like structure above the dam. In “Eidophusikon” a large screen is spot lit from behind the stage, leaving the screen and the stage itself in the dark. A sky full of ominous clouds suggests an oncoming storm. Bright light emanates from what appears to be a pool of water and scrapes up a cliff side, revealing in stark relief its ragged contours, in “Pool of Light.” In each of these drawings light comes from an unexpected and unexplainable source. These drawings suggest mysterious events that we don’t have a ready explanation for. Technically, the light emanates from the white of the paper, the only surface the artist has left unmarked by graphite.

The exhibition title, Wall Cloud, refers to a large, lowering and rotating base of a cumulonimbus cloud that potentially forms tornadoes. It is a natural form which has characteristics of a man made form, and a phenomenon which has the potential to create incredible amounts of energy. As such it can also be an ominous sign of danger and is a perfect metaphor for much of Schall’s work.

A series of drawings that Schall made during a residency with the specialty hand made paper and print making studio, Dieu Donné, tease out the visual possibilities of the mysterious cloud forms. In his “Spherical Cage” series, the shapes, resembling soft clouds, puffs of smoke, or perhaps explosions, are contained within spherical cages, like diagrams of the outer perimeter of Earth. The smokey shapes were made by infusing powdered graphite directly into the wet paper pulp and manipulated it while still wet. In an attempt to give formal structure, or possibly contain the chaos of the pulpy graphite shapes, the artist has drawn a series of cages around the forms. In other drawings the cloud-like forms interact with mundane and exotic objects, like a wooden box, a Fabergé egg, and even a Mason jar, within which the shape resembles a tiny model of anti-matter.

This will be Schall’s fourth exhibition at Pierogi. He has recently been working on residency with Dieu Donné studios and was commissioned by McSweeney’s to create drawings for two editions.