Marlborough is pleased to announce Mike Bouchet’s solo exhibition Flood. Presented on two floors of newly renovated galleries, the show brings together new colachrome paintings, Jacuzzi sculptures and a four-channel, high defnition video. e artist has not had a solo exhibition in New York in 8 years, and this is his first with the gallery.
The driving forces behind this show are manifold, but coalesce into an incisive critique of popular culture that nevertheless celebrates the strange effectiveness of its machinations. An important blueprint for the exhibition is Bouchet’s observation that Surrealism was rendered obsolete by the explosion of advertising in the middle of the last century—effectively outshining the artists with a more sophisticated and depraved dream-machine.
The paintings (made by spraying, soaking and staining huge swaths of sheer cotton with the artist’s proprietary diet cola formula) make direct use of the caramel-colored gold that is one of America’s greatest symbols of youth and freedom as well as its premier health risk—an exported analogue to crude oil.
Often suggestive of billboards both in content and scale, these paintings—the newest in an ongoing and progressively renewed series— are made with cut-vinyl stencils cribbed largely from the text and imagery of cola advertisements. eir seductive sepia-toned brown compounds the Madison Avenue come-ons by revealing twisted humor, utter strangeness and a thinly-veiled sexuality. Bouchet addresses historical and more recent political uses of painting, where landscape celebrated the expansion of territory, and the use of text, in the form of propagandistic sloganeering, was loosely presented as a means of self-actualization.
The artist’s Jacuzzi sculptures explore the human byproduct of this mindset, playing with certain popular New York “dynasties” in this exhibition’s selection. These cardboard and fiberglass whirlpool baths send up Minimalism and luxury (both in the Finish Fetish sense, and in the sense of the commodity that an Anish Kapoor or John McCracken work has come to represent.) These sculptures ask us to con ate two opposed lines of thinking: Donald Judd in a hot tub, or our own bodies in an attempt to reconcile the idea of relaxation with the severity of this kind of sculpture.
On the second floor, Bouchet’s colossal Untitled Video (2011) takes 20th century advertising’s suggestiveness to its most blatant and fully realized expression. Comprising 10,000 simultaneous 10-minute clips of sex footage culled from the Internet that have been exhaustively tiled into a single patchwork, the piece is an astonishing all-over composition and a Tower of Babel of kinetic frottage. As it is presented here, in an anachronistically cinematic aspect-ratio, the piece feels as old-fashioned as cut-paper collage—and precisely of our pixelated moment.
Born in Castro Valley, California, Bouchet received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from UCLA in 1994.
His works can be found in the following public collections: Centre Georges Pompidou
Belvedere Museum, Vienna, Austria
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway Margulies Collection, Miami, Florida.
The artist lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany.