Waugh’s ink drawings on mylar utilize imagery constructed entirely out of handwritten text. Hundreds of pages from government reports and theoretical writings about power and capitalism are transcribed word for word into airy, visual compositions that reinterpret 19th century tableaux: stately portraits of horses, cowboys on the homestead, a team of rowers racing down the river.
The white space and sense of lightness in these drawings belie a frenetic surface teeming with cramped, labored handwriting only visible upon close inspection. Occasionally, the tight scrawls unfold into a more generous script. Discernible words and phrases like “CITIBANK” and “clearly illegal” surrender a subtle awareness of the works' larger context, raising questions about the difficult to digest text, in this case—The Congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Report. The bureaucratic haze of the document is amplified and mirrored in the tension between image and word.
Included in the exhibition is the largest piece the artist has constructed to date: a four panel work measuring fourteen-feet in length. The text is a complete transcription of Pierre Bourdieu's Les régles de l’art—or, The Rules of Art—exploring the interconnection between art and the societal structures within which it is produced and received. Inked by Waugh in the original French, Bourdieu's sociological musings on cultural capital are woven into a street scene of an exploding building, threatening a crowd too distracted to notice.
Michael Waugh was born in Cambridge, MA. He earned his graduate degree in painting from New York University in 2000; but he also has degrees in writing from Texas State University and history from the University of Texas. He has exhibited internationally for the last fifteen years and his work has been reviewed by the New York Times, Art in America and ARTNews. He is the recipient of awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Marie Walsh Sharp Space Program and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.