If the conceptual art mystique is finally ready to fall from its absurd weight of self-importance, then what will be left after all the hype produced artists, with their armies of artisans they namelessly employ to make or break their art, fall by the wayside. I think you will be left with some actual thoughtful artists that don’t default to Duchamp and don’t adhere to the hands off Warhol factory production model. Instead I would like you to consider the show at Cydonia with the artist Michael Just.
As I entered the gallery the first thing I noticed was three laser-cut text pieces distributed around the gallery space. Like the title of the show, one black text reads, “What’s done cannot be undone”. I found that the text was held together with a metal bar that seemed to strike through the texts. Much in the same way Thomas Aquinas and later Martin Heidegger would mark out being, because a word could not fully contain the gravity of the word. In other words, language was incapable of completely quantifying the meaning of this high ideas. Michael Just seems to be crossing out his phrases to imply greater meaning. You will find two other phrases that play with language and meaning. A silver piece titled The Wounds of the Spirits reads “The wounds of the spirits heal and leave no scars behind” and another White piece proclaims that “The time is out of joint”. Because of his choice in using silver and white, the mark out effect is more subtle.
His pictures of a fault line helped further bolster my argument that Just was playing with this idea of striking. The lines run across the desert, created by the force of two plates of earth moving. Struck out text implies powerful forces of interpretation and perspective occurring by the reader. Of course, Michael Just could also be describing an in-between space that occurs in text and in nature.
Michael Just uses multiple perspectives in his series of faces titled Scars. These images of a sculpture are not an Andy Warhol, dead pan repeat of a screen printed photograph. Instead each image is at a slightly different angle, almost as if one was searching around the sculpture. It looks to me Just gold leafed the image, but didn’t hide his process, because the squares of the material are still visible. This helped to demystify the work and prevent a kind of old school religious icon elevation reference. It is hard to demystify gold without going kitsch, but Just manages it skillfully.
The only piece in the show that felt out of step was his image of a cartoon rabbit and wolf. The work was really outside the main show, behind an area blocked off to visitors, yet it was just odd. It lacked all the sophistication of the rest of the show, so it stood out, even if was off to the side. Two other works of blossoms struck me as strange at first as well, because they were very simple, graphic representations of bouquets of flowers in baskets. Not until I was told about the source material and how the color was stripped from the image that the deep cultural significance of the German native sank in. But you will have to go and ask about these two works if you want to know their stories. Hanh Ho and her staff would love to fill you in on the story of these two works. February 20th the show will be done and shouldn’t leave any scars behind.
ModernDallas.net for more images.