Michael Bevilacqua: Amphetamine Logic
Gallery Faurschou Copenhagen
03 September – 13 November 2010
This autumn Faurschou CPH presents the exhibition “Amphetamine Logic” by the young American painter Michael Bevilacqua.
Michael Bevilacqua’s works are characterized by strong visual energy: collages of words, colours, patterns and figures – always with references to music, and often with a starting point in his own life and with a sure eye for the history of art.
A characteristic feature of the new works is strong acrylic colours on a black-primed background. Stray words and sentences, often the title of the work, are worked into the picture surface in a way that, quite in keeping with the punk aesthetic that permeates the exhibition, evokes associations with the Sex Pistols’ album covers: capital and small letters in various fonts are cut out and put together in coloured fields – “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, “To Hell with Poverty – Let’s get Drunk on Cheap Wine”, “White Punks on Dope” – quotes from and references to Punk, Goth and New Wave bands; this time for example (among others) Gang of Four, Sisters of Mercy, David Bowie, Placebo, Echo and the Bunnymen and Gorillaz, who provided the soundtrack in the artist’s studio.
In their early Cubist pictures, Picasso and Braque were already pasting words, fragments from news¬papers, everyday objects etc. on to the canvas. The collage changed the relationship of painting to space – to the three-dimensional and sculpture – and initiated the breakdown of the boundaries between fine art and mass culture that has been making its impact ever since. Michael Bevilacqua’s pictures are clearly influenced by the collages of our own day – a time of versions, appropriations, sampling, cut-ups and re-mixes – and by the computer world of Google, “layers” and “windows”. The digital and technological world is a basic foundation, but Bevilacqua’s pictures are also ‘analog’; they use sharp-edged figurations contoured with tape, but make equal use of the freehand brushstroke.
“Amphetamine Logic”, which with yet another music reference is the title of both the exhibition and of one of the works, refers to the speeded, complex world we live in, where self-improvement books (I’m OK, you’re OK) have become widespread. According to Michael Bevilacqua it also expresses a tendency in our time to diagnose, treat and medicate all human behaviour. Ways of acting that once didn’t arouse any great sensation are today immediately pigeonholed, and attempts are made to “normalize” them.
“Anger is Energy” is a title from the band PiL, which Michael Bevilacqua often quotes, just like “Punk and Disorderly”, another picture in the exhibition. With its mainly black-and-white contrasts and black-mottled colour fields it underscores the anti-establishment and punk attitude that is in play.
In the variegated layers of abstract colour areas, words and figurations, we also see a recurrent sailor theme with references to cartoon figures like Popeye and Bluto – and to Fassbinder’s film Querelle.
A now sadly topical picture is “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, which Michael Bevilacqua painted in the winter of a swimming pool against a matte black background where a large oil slick runs down into the water.
There are many layers of meaning, a strong sensual visuality and a large helping of black humour in Michael Bevilacqua’s works.
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