Schroeder Romero Gallery is pleased to present The More I See of Men, the gallery’s third solo show by Michael Waugh – with work that bridges the gap between two great American events, the inauguration of a new president in January and the Westminster Dog Show in February.
The drawings that comprise this show continue Waugh’s exploration of the drawing technique called micrography, through which tiny hand-written words are used to build up visual images. As Waugh’s work continues to evolve, the drawings have become denser and more expressive; yet they remain deeply engaged in politics and the rhetoric of official history.
The work presented in The More I See of Men, uses the text of reports commissioned by U.S presidents as its starting point. These reports, which often serve the purposes of political propaganda, present research on issues as diverse as the attacks of 9/11, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the privatization of social security. Waugh uses these texts to create a dizzying filigree of bureaucratic documents that coalesce into the form of dogs – waiting to serve their masters. Rich with allegory and dark humor, these drawings subvert the obvious, optically shifting between image and text, figure and ground. These are drawings that transcend their source by reminding us that viewing is not passive.
Dogs are a common subject in popular art; and, after portraits of people, portraits of pets are the second most commissioned subject. Part of the critique inherent in this series of drawings is a comparison between the banality of such artistic commissions and the banality of commissioned propaganda. The knowledge that dogs have been bred to serve us, to listen and do our bidding unquestioningly makes the critique more biting. The centerpiece of the show, entitled The Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties, is over eight feet tall and almost ten feet wide; it contains over 300 pages of handwritten text; it took six months to complete. Such vast amounts of labor given over in service to such specious propaganda cannot be felt easily. Like the history of the country into which this work delves, this show overflows with generosity, with a contradictory, heartbreaking beauty.
Michael Waugh received his MFA from Texas State University. His work has been shown at Ronald Feldman Gallery, NY; OKOK Gallery, Seattle; The Morris Museum, NJ; and at The University of Connecticut, among others. New work will be included in Solution, a group show curated by Janet Phelps at DiverseWorks, Houston, TX in March. He received a residency from the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions at Rutgers University in 2008 and is a Joan Mitchell fellowship recipient at the Vermont Studio Center for 2009. The Artist would like to thank Argosy Books for its support of this project.