Cut and Paste

Here’s the bad news first: You are too late, Michael Scheurer’s exquisite solo show at Clay Street Press closed this weekend (October 16th, 2010). The summation of nearly two years worth of effort, The Tabloid Series and other Works presents over 40 collages and a series of six intaglio and full color lithographs (made in conjunction with artist and printer Mark Patsfall) that abound with curiosity and meticulous detail. The sheer amount of visual information available in this show is stunning and a full appreciation of the exhibit requires multiple visits.

For source material, Scheurer mines all four corners of the globe, but his collages are most at home in the Far East. The uncomplicated sensibility of traditional Asian artwork is pervasive in many of the best pieces, but several of the denser works also pay homage to Surrealism and precipitously, DaDa. The collages on view form several groupings; there is an Art Historical Series, a Coloring Book Series, a Paint Series, and each references in some way its genesis as works of art. The collaborative Tabloid Series being the most singular of these.

As previously noted the Tabloid Series are not true collages, but rather mixed media lithographs designed by Scheurer and printed by Patsfall resulting in a decidedly different kind of work. Due to their black ground, these prints have a somewhat closed feel; the eye is continuously pushed away from the edges and back towards the center of the picture. In contrast to his more open works where the eye is free to roam, the Tabloid images are much bossier. The Tabloid Series also directly reference their starting point differently. Whereas the collage material in Scheurer’s other pieces acknowledge their source but grow into something fresh in their new context, the Tabloids never expand beyond being the cover of a magazine.

In the large North Wall installation, Scheurer’s work is able to hold together a monumental display that could quickly spin out of control by exerting a tight unity within and among the pieces. There is a high level of restraint regarding use of color and taken as a whole, the pieces tend to vibrate with a uniformity that is punctuated only by the occasional outlandish burst. When Scheurer goes hot pink, as in Untitled #7 of his Paint Series, he means it.

Nearly 100 years after the beginning of the pasted paper revolution, collage continues to be a source of inspiration for artists and viewers alike. Michael Scheurer’s contribution to the form is tremendous both in terms of scale and quality; rarely is one treated to an exhibition that displays not only the dexterity of the artist, but the malleability of the medium. Such a consistently superior body of work is not an altogether common phenomenon, but as with all good things; this show too, has come to an end.

-Alan D. Pocaro

The Tabloid Series and other Works on view through October 16th, 2010 at Clay Street Press. Clay Street Press, Inc. 1312 Clay St. Cincinnati, OH 45202. (513) 241-3232

Pictured Yop: Untitled #7 (Paint Series) 2009. Mixed media collage and acrylic and enamel on paper. Courtesy of Clay Street Press.

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