The Nielsen Reports state that in the US, the average person is exposed to between 500 and 1,600 advertising messages per day. As we are only awake an average of 1000 minutes a day, this statistic underlines the import of mass media (and advertising as a subset) in our modern, workaday lives. It is with an eye to social commentary, at a time when mass media is omnipresent in our consciousness, that the art of Michael Anderson is most relevant.
The artist’s unique and meticulous studio practice, which exclusively utilizes billboards and street posters, is both confined and defined by a fixed scale, easily digestible messages and pop culture imagery. Anderson strips the original advertisements of their power of persuasion and employs them for something much more complex and insightful. By seducing our undisciplined attention spans, Anderson adds emotional dimension and narrative to images that originally held none. Abstraction and representation collide; repetition of specific fragments of imagery, some static and others swimming, mingle to hypnotize the viewer, luring him to decode the non-linear message hidden beneath the bright, enticing surface design. “I make art about the world we live in,” says Anderson.
Apparent in the artist’s work is a deep appreciation for graffiti art. In graffiti, letters often become so abstracted that they lose all legibility. Taking texts from advertisements, Anderson similarly renders the words almost undecipherable as he creates something unique and absorbing. He deconstructs, distorts, and then combines to generate a feeling of motion and energy in dazzling, mosaic-like images that fluctuate in optical pattern and cultural reference. Also evident in Anderson’s work is the obsessive method behind the assemblage of each piece. As an ongoing process, the artist has meticulously hand-collected images from posters acquired in the dead of night on his travels to Germany, Mexico, and Italy as well as on the streets near his home in Spanish Harlem. A visual topography of these vibrant ethnic neighborhoods is layered deeply in each work, collectively driving its pulse and frenetic energy. ”When you see remnants of torn down posters, that’s my tag,” he says.
Like a sculptor, Anderson layers and repeats shredded images into a visual staccato that he brings together, creating an elaborate and wonderful tapestry. His titles a cipher to the content, the artist arrange new world orders, sacred battles and mythological manifestos in the pop-bright kaleidoscope of collage. Anderson’s works resonate with enigmatic possibilities; the artist plays both critic and participant.
Michael Anderson’s work will be prominently featured in the upcoming exhibitions Borders and Frontiers, opening March, 2011 at the Oakland University Art Gallery, Rochester, MI. and Beyond Bling: Voices of Hip-Hop in Art at the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL opening in May of 2011. The Artist’s collages are included in the important Scala Publication, Beyond Bling: Voices of Hip-Hop in Art which will release to coincide with the opening of this exhibition.
[Image: Michael Anderson "Red Abstraction” (2010) street poster collage 96 x 96 in. Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, New York]
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Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Leila Heller Gallery, September 2014
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