Michael Joo's latest show at Blain|Southern starts with a monumental sculpture, genuinely like a monument - heavy with geology, scaffolding and scale. The artist himself has described it as a 'marble billboard' and it sits not unlike roadside signage found neglected alongside routes across the globe. The slab of stone is permeated by silver nitrate, having seeped through certain veins and corroding the rock's make up. Bolted together with superman staples, the work presented is damaged and defiant.
Next up are a series of seven baking tray paintings, also using silver nitrate. In fact the paintings have been screen printed and worked on to reveal a mirrored sheen, and on each is a just-there figure semi-legible in the layers. These numbers are calorie counts - randomly chosen actions and their energy expenditure; standing, running, waiting each for a second.
The larger black paintings also deal in calories but the artist has calculated fantastical equations - the assumptive size of Buddha based on average height/waist ratios and cultural norms, and what energy would be required to reach enlightenment using metabolic breakdown during starvation; an established route to nirvana. Visually they hark back to Jasper Johns' number paintings, loss of all colour but the same stencil like indentations.
The show extends down the stairs with a striking installation of over a dozen graphite/resin casts of birds legs. Joo previously had a residency at the Smithsonian and his interest in African cranes began there. In this piece the graphite element has allowed the work to leave a line above, leaving a trail down to where the legs sit all aligned.
http://www.blainsouthern.com/exhibitions/2016/radiohalo until April 9th