Michael Wilkinson ‘SORRY HAD TO DONE’
The Los Angeles property developer John Lydon recently opined that he’d seen what a failure socialism was, because he’d lived in a council flat. This squares with the idea that punk was a sort of counter-cultural equivalent to Thatcherism – a movement for individualism, cruelty and discipline, as against the woolly solidarity and collectivism of the postwar consensus.
- Owen Hatherley, ‘Property Development as the new Punk Rock’ in A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (Verso, London, 2010)
Michael Wilkinson’s practice draws from a complex negotiation of political, cultural, and personal references. Influenced by art, social history, political radicalism, Marxist theory, popular music, and punk subculture of the 1970s and 1980s, these references are integrated into works that assemble a diverse and unlikely range of materials (beeswax, verdigris, audio and VHS tape, vinyl records, Lego, etched mirrors, found photographs and materials, catalogue pages, and paint on canvas). Through the use of such disparate media, SORRY HAD TO DONE further exemplifies Wilkinson’s technique of collaging or layering, both conceptually and practically, which reflect his multiple subject references. Wilkinson works almost always suggest an element of upheaval or unrest, either looking back into the past, or as a measure of the present.
In this exhibition, Wilkinson has constructed his most recent series of Lego monoliths, a 3.5m grey tower. This piece stands in visual counterpoint to a field of rubble made from the defunct Bluevale high rise, currently under demolition in the east end of Glasgow. These pieces are flanked by a large canvas which features an image of Ivan Chtcheglov, whose phrase The hacienda must be built gave its name to Manchester’s most famous club, and a plaster bas relief showing a fragment of graffiti taken from a song by another Manchester legend, Steven Patrick Morrissey of The Smiths.
The show also features an etched mirror piece Wilkinson has produced using his book 1979, a ‘fasces’ and an ‘indexical non-painting’.
Michael Wilkinson (b. Merseyside, UK in 1965, lives and works in Glasgow) studied at BA (Hons) Environmental Art and MFA at The Glasgow School of Art. Recent solo exhibitions include: CITADEL: The fortress commanding a city, which it serves both to protect and to dominate, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2014); En Attendant, Pearl Lam, Shanghai (2013); Dresden, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow (2012); No History, Blum & Poe, LA (2012); and Never Works, Le Temple, Paris (2011). Wilkinson’s works were presented within The Curves of the Needle, BALTIC 39, Newcastle upon Tyne (2015) and Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm, Tate Britain, London (2013-2014); His work has also been exhibited at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag; FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Carquefour; Studio Voltaire, London; New Wight Gallery at University of California, Los Angeles; Dundee Contemporary Arts; Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; and NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, among other institutions worldwide.