A View Without A Room
March 13 – April 26, 2020
MICKEY is pleased to collaborate with Toronto based gallery COOPER COLE to present a two person exhibition, A View Without A Room, featuring the work of Michelle Grabner and Vanessa Maltese, curated by Simon Cole.
Michelle Grabner’s sculptural work employs familiar objects, arrangements, and patterns to explore the power structures that underpin everyday life. Investigating the political resonance of the concept of ‘order’ that traverses the boundaries of governance and visual culture, the artist asserts that even the most domestic patterns on textiles reverberate with political connotations. In Grabner’s plaster reliefs, crocheted compositions are embedded in, and removed from, plaster molds set in baking pans, revealing that color has leached from the from the textile into the plaster, and speaking to the ways that our environments condition us. Her wood reliefs that display screen printed lids and abstract gingham paintings invert the previously mentioned material strategy by means of building layers, drawing attention to the visual ordering that exists in domestic environments. The works in this exhibition exemplify Grabner’s interest in undermining the social power of ordinary objects and images; Instead of developing new forms and patterns, she intentionally extracts common and mundane motifs, recontextualizing them in sculptural work that makes their social functions hyper-visible.
Vanessa Maltese’s new paintings and sculptures explore processes of pattern recognition and viewer perception. In her paintings Hypothesizing coincidence no.1-no.8 Maltese employs klecksography, a process of making images from inkblots. The artist begins by making blot prints on drawing pads, groups them together according to similarities and relationships between shapes, and from there transfers the drawings onto the panel surfaces. Maltese’s process of making these works speaks to associative thinking, recalling the historical use of klecksography in psychoanalysis as a way of tapping into the subconscious. In her sculptural series Hook, Maltese continues her inquiry into human perception by creating cast bronze works that depict coat hooks broken in various ways, with the intention of resembling faces. Emerging from Maltese’s research on pareidolia, the psychological phenomenon in which recognizable patterns are identified in unrelated contexts, the title of these works refers both to the literal objects as well as the sensation of a pareidolic instance.
A View Without A Room places Grabner and Maltese’s work into an incisive dialogue around objects and visuality. Both artists are influenced by imagery that is workaday and easily overlooked, but is also laden with social, political, and psychological implications. Together, Grabner and Maltese’s respective practices use familiar visual patterns to reveal the structures that condition the way we see.
Michelle Grabner (b. 1962, Oshkosh, USA) holds an MA in Art History and a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and an MFA in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern University. She joined the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996, and became Chair of Painting and Drawing department in 2009. She is also a senior critic at Yale University in the Department of Painting and Printmaking. Her writing has been published in Artforum, Modern Painters, Frieze, Art Press, and Art-Agenda. Grabner also runs The Suburban and The Poor Farm with her husband, artist Brad Killam. She co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art along with Anthony Elms and Stuart Comer, and served as the inaugural artistic director of FRONT International, a triennial exhibition in and around Cleveland, OH in 2018. Grabner currently lives and works in Milwaukee, USA.
I Work From Home, Michelle Grabner’s first comprehensive solo museum exhibition opened in 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland organized by David Norr. She was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art curated by Tricia Paik in 2015. Solo exhibitions of her work have also been held at INOVA, The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Ulrich Museum, Wichita; and University Galleries, Illinois State University. She has been included in group exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate St. Ives, UK; and Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland. Her work is included in the permanent collection of Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; MoCA, Chicago; MUDAM, Luxemburg; Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin; Daimler Contemporary, Berlin; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Vanessa Maltese (b. 1988, Toronto, Canada) holds a BFA from OCAD University. She is the National Winner of the 2012 RBC Canadian Painting Competition and has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions across North America. Most recently, she has exhibited at Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, New York, Halsey Mckay, East Hampton; ITP Space, Jackson; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, USA; The Power Plant, Cooper Cole, Erin Stump Projects, Toronto; Carl Louie, London; Wil Aballe Art Projects, Vancouver, Canada. In 2018 Vanessa completed the Glenfiddich Artist-in-Residence program in Dufftown, Scotland. Her monumental public artwork “subject to change” can be seen at RBC’s Waterpark Place in downtown Toronto. Maltese currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada.