Michele Abeles’ “World Cup” at Sadie Coles HQ, London

Michele Abeles’ “World Cup” is the artist’s second exhibition by the artist at Sadie Coles HQ. Four new series of works are on display where the artist uses photographic imagery to create a suspended, composite realm in which the artist plays out ideas of gender, power and psychology.

“Underlying Abeles’ latest works is the guiding idea of a waiting room — a locale of dilated time, open-ended potential and deferred knowledge. The waiting room constitutes a framework for Abeles’ recurring concerns at the same time as resonating with current political and social anxieties,” the gallery writes. “In a series of works conceived as bricolage, Abeles has created multipart constructions named after reptiles found in the swamps of Florida. She conceived of the modestly-sized works as hidden gems, of the kind seen that hang in the homes or offices of plutocrats. They have chunky ‘masculine’ frames, many of which are wrapped in imitation crocodile skin, or gilded with acrylic gold paint — a material gesture used both to mask and to upgrade. Paranoia runs rampant: each work contains not-so-hidden cameras and reflective materials such as fragments of broken mirror.”

Street photography with a focus on the male subject and for the first time her anonymous subjects’ faces in lieu of an abstracted body is often the focal point of her works. Viewers can see that photographic portraits of white male professionals on their way to work present oblivious white-collar subjects — sartorially codified and psychologically tuned-out (several are wearing wireless headphones), perhaps with the flicker of an existential crisis.

These works have a tranquil palette, expansive scale and use of familiar imagery work together to seduce the viewer, perhaps inducing a palliative effect through the promise of visual and psychic escape. Yet their ostensible vacancy may equally lead the viewer back to where they started: facing reality, right here, right now.

Abeles responds in a separate series to the kind of vacant imagery that populates waiting rooms. Digital reproductions of Monet’s “Waterlillies” are deployed as readymades: The artist collates sections of the anodyne pictures together with elements from her own archive of works to produce hypnotic digital tapestries.

 

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Founder: Louise Blouin  

 

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