Micah Lexier: Versions
Works in the exhibition
Games and puzzles have long been the stuff of inspiration for Micah Lexier. His current exhibition, Versions, at Birch Contemporary takes a playful meander through these forms. Borrowing on the congeniality that these often shared amusements bestow, the show is relaxed and sociable, inviting the viewer to play along too.
Coming out of a two year process of executing a major public artwork that required rigorous planning and precise, controlled decisions, Lexier has taken the opportunity to be spontaneous with this new body of work, to let outcomes shift as events dictate, and to defer or multiply decisions, offering multiple forms of resolution to the puzzles he’s created. This may sound like a risky adventure but is it a game of chance or a game of skill? Followers of Lexier’s art practice will recognise his long-standing custom of sourcing graphic and illustrational elements from outmoded printed source material. Followers of his Instagram feed will be familiar with the observational habits that compose his daily practice, with his wresting of compelling details from shards of urban scatter. Both groups will find their attention embraced and rewarded in this recent crop of works.
Each work is a variation or version of another work, paying homage to such artistic tropes as the varied edition, the unique multiple and the assisted readymade. One work is derived from a jigsaw puzzle, another is derived from a puzzle for a jigsaw. One work is a variation on an earlier work. Another uses the same approach of an earlier work in a different format to yield a completely different outcome. One work is the same set of shapes executed in two different materials and presented in yet another two ways of combining those elements, or perhaps elements from each different material set are combined in various ways. Or a single shape appears in numerous copies, each with a unique method of display. Seemingly incidental marks are made deliberate by retracing them in another medium, and a medium is deliberately compromised in execution, making the character of its marks seem incidental, the product of chance.
In a move that has become routine for Lexier, he has curated a small group show in the anterior space of the gallery. Following a typical strategy, These Five Things includes a senior artist, Ric Evans, two artists of his own generation, Joy Walker and Martin Boudreau, and two emerging artists, Matthew Feyld and Sean Stewart, all with one work each. Resonating with Lexier’s interest in geometric form, each of these works takes a linear approach to dividing or multiplying the space of the work. By coincidence each work has a number in its title. Numbers, of course, are the basis for a whole other category of games which Lexier plays here with decided skill.
Repetition, variation, reversal, for all the energy of chance these strategies are calculated to construct a syntax of visual and material relationships. They may be derived from simple amusements but they shed light on our most valued attribute, our curiosity. The artwork emerges from the pure pleasure of discovery, just for the fun of it.
Text by Christina Ritchie