East Contemporary

Meet Factory: Michele Gabriele “Walking Our Distance”

Prague, December 1, 2023 – January 28, 2024, http://www.meetfactory.cz

The central figure of the exhibition, both in metaphorical and spatial terms, was an humanoid fish-like alien with an afro-asian face. Numerous pencil-drawn portraits of this creature were lined up along the walls of the main exhibition hall. Some portraits were very precise and detailed, others were blurred with smudges, as if they contained a double exposure or a blurred photograph. The middle of the room was occupied by a tree-dimensional life-size silicone sculpture of the aforementioned creature. One leg in a plaster cast and two crutches lying nearby, it appeared rather helpless and in need of care.

The setting felt like a preparation for a main character design in a sci-fi movie. The room felt rather empty, airy, giving the individual artifacts enough space to unfold. The fish+afro features of the creature made me think of the Drexciyan myth developed by Stinson and Donald from the Detroit techno act of the same name.

There were two more exhibition spaces in the show. Each featured one large abstract canvas. The acrylic color pigments were applied onto a partially water-repellent base, creating the effect one would expect, forming uneven smudges of paint. This effect linked well to the under-watery feel that the creature evoked and also the water-repellent silicone material the sculpture of the creature was made of. The violet, green and blue-ish color with an occasional spot of complementary yellow also matched the murky-watery theme. Thus, even though the expressive canvases were miles away from the delicate drawings in the first room, one could imagine some kind of relation between them. The symmetrical placement of two similar canvases in two separate rooms created a deja-vu effect on a small scale. The mind was flip-floping between the two but could not encompass both of them simultaneously.

I cannot exactly verbalize what this was “about”, but I think that is also not necessary. It was definitely well and thoughtfully crafted and it contained a tension between the different elements that hinted at a narrative without revealing too much, kick-starting the viewers fantasy and speculation.

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