A cross between Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Michael Cline’s picture world resembles what a flea market might look like on bath salts—loads of thumb-worn and dog-eared modern and vintage visuals visioned alongside free-floating eyes, faces, and limbs. Among the more normal bits incorporated as painted elements into his latest group of canvases are the following: magazine advertisements, yard sale memorabilia, cabbage-shaped houseplants, The Berenstain Bears, and the kind of morbid symbolism that historically characterize Dutch still-lifes. Cline marshals all of these motifs into homespun visual parables. Additionally, the artist enlists his own set of wide ranging cultural influences—they veer wildly from Vermeer to Robert Henri, from Leaves of Grass to The Village Voice’s back page classifieds—to arrive at what amounts to a 21st century version of painterly Ashcan entropy.
Cline’s recent pictures constitute a vision of America’s allegorized cultural and social decay—from its recent economic slump to its attendant detritus (think government shutdowns, bankrupt cities, and the TV show Storage Wars). Consisting of collapsed or jerry-rigged structures that symbolize the teetering State of the Union, Cline’s misbegotten contraptions also serve as signposts for this artist’s antic Little Tramp aesthetic. Painted in a mixture of supermarket colors (cerise, terra cotta, kudzu green), somber blacks (the favorite background color for the classical still life), and wood-hued browns, Cline’s compositions both update tradition and distress current artistic convention. The result is a set of pictures that attach themselves firmly on both the retina and the limbic system. Few paintings today feel as vibrant or as disturbingly true to life as this artist’s cornucopia-like accretions of shopworn and mismatched Americana gone to seed.
Michael Cline (b. 1973, Cape Canaveral, FL) lives and works in Astoria, Queens. He received a BA from the University of North Florida and a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been featured in exhibitions at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, IT; the Deste Foundation, Athens, GR; The Suburban, Chicago, IL; David Kordansky, Los Angeles, CA; and Daniel Reich Gallery, New York; among others. His work is in the collection of the Deste Foundation, Athens, GR; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, AU; the Pinault Foundation, Venice, IT; and the Saatchi Gallery, London, UK.
Corporation Pudding coincides with the artist’s inclusion in Body Language at the Saatchi Gallery, London, UK.
A limited edition catalogue will be available in 100 hand-numbered copies with an essay by Christian Viveros-Fauné.