As part of the exhibition Supercharger by Northern BC artist Michael Forry, I put together a short exhibition text, which follows here.
A number of influences are apparent in Michael Forry’s work, most prominent being the punk movement. As an ideology, punk is characterized by an anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian perspective with a distinctive DIY aesthetic. Los Angeles art critic, Andrew Berardini identifies “the monstrous” as an aspect of this movement. Individuals emerge from the shadows, becoming avatars reflecting their personal and political motivations. Punk bands like the Cramps and Misfits merge a type of proto-punk face-paint resembling Alice Cooper with a B-movie, sci-fi and horror aesthetic as a manifestation of the monstrous. As a metaphor for adult imagination, this practice allows individuals to act out experiences of trauma and rage within a like-minded community. (1)
In the exhibition Supercharger, elements of the Punk movement surface through Forry’s use of three distinctive substrates: found animal skulls, traditional canvases and repurposed skateboards. Individual freedom is one of the foremost concerns that surfaced in Punk, a characteristic that is visible through the use of skateboards here. Forry recovered six used skateboards, colloquially referred to as decks, all made at CBA in Northern BC. The decks are imbued with cultural and political meaning despite being ubiquitous objects. As an expression, the decks are emblematic of independence, individual freedom and rule breaking. (2)
Forry’s canvases are layered with acrylic and spray paint and collaged materials. He uses found objects and detritus, instilling the works with distinctive qualities that hold a direct lineage in his world. Many of the canvases feature repetitive circular forms, complete or not, with some layered over each other. This repetition appears meditative and is suggestive of the obsessive use of dots and circles in the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Equally compelling is his use of acrylic, applied in splatters and long drips and dribbles in the manner of Jackson Pollock. Underneath are strong lines of spray paint, where his own personal iconography of tagging emerges, in the spirit of contemporary street artists.
In his use of found animal skulls Forry’s personal story unravels. He finds them discarded in the wilderness and in many cases reconstructs them. In saving their skulls he is restoring their spirits. These relics are permeated with the power and prestige they held as fierce, living beings. The titles speak to the spirits of the animals that once were, carrying a legacy that would have been lost with their deaths. As with the grizzly entitled Supercharger, the skulls emulate a “supercharged” revived strength, power and endurance.
(1) Berardini, Andrew. "Marnie Weber's "Chapel of the Moon"" Marnie Weber's "Chapel of the Moon" | Art Agenda. Art Agenda, 2 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 2 Dec. 2016. < http://www.art-agenda.com/reviews/marnie-weber’s-“chapel-of-the-moon”/>
(2) For an example of an exhibition on skateboard culture see: MacLaughlin, Bryne. "On Board Culture and Rule Breaking." Canadian Art. Canadian Art, 24 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 02 Dec. 2016. < http://canadianart.ca/features/boarderx/>