IMG_ is the first solo museum exhibition of Melbourne-based Michael Staniak, an artist whose paintings intentionally confuse the digital with the handmade, scrutinizing the role of technology today. Staniak’s paintings’ uncanny texture, trompe l’oeil effects, and hyper-saturated pigments can appear as flat when viewed online, or even as if created by 3-D printers or Epson inkjets. However, the work is entirely made by hand; the viewer is required to experience the work in person—IRL—to fully understand its complex physical depth.
Michael Staniak: IMG_ comprises paintings from four recent bodies of work: IMG_, Internet Blueprint, DATA, and PNG_Binary Code, the first two of which begin with the artist creating a three-dimensional textured relief. Staniak’s IMG_ paintings use fluorescent pigments and holographic gradients to challenge the expectation of flatness, exuding a layered, sculptural quality. Undulations and indentations captured in the plaster’s surface suggest ripples in water or sound waves. The Internet Blueprint series isolates a specific hue of blue popular on the Web, particularly on the social media networks Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. In the visual code of the Internet, this ubiquitous color signifies an empty field waiting for uploaded content or the potential for social connectivity.
Staniak’s DATA paintings use pulverized CDs, DVDs, M-Discs, and silicon wafer cells as their raw material. Initially ground into small particles and affixed to the canvas using resin binders and acrylic gel mediums, the compositions’ iridescent palette is contingent on the technological material from which it began—CD: green, DVD: purple, M-Disc: gray. The DATA paintings repurpose obsolete storage material, questioning the longevity of digital information and transforming temporary hardware into a medium for painting. Staniak’s conceptually prescient and materially innovative paintings envelop the viewer in an opposition between aesthetic beauty and the numbing effects of our digitized world.
Michael Staniak (b. 1982, Melbourne, Australia) lives and works in Melbourne. This exhibition is the artist’s first major museum exhibition in the United States. Previous solo exhibitions include Square of Heroes at Artereal Gallery, Sydney (2012) and Liquid Crystal Baroque at Metro Gallery, Melbourne (2011). Group exhibition credits include Blue Times at the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria (2014) and Go With The Flow at The Hole, New York (2014).
Michael Staniak: IMG_ is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Jeffrey Uslip, Chief Curator.