03.09 — 04.12.14
devening projects + editions is pleased to announce Exile on Main Street, the first solo show in the gallery by Mike Rea.
For over a decade, Chicago artist Mike Rea has used his bombastic wooden sculptures to conflate notions of working hard and playing hard. Regenerated moments of cinematic horror, science fiction, comedy and drama intermingle with memory to form bizarre personal narratives. The aggregate of this mix is uncanny and often thrills and confounds his audience. Rea’s sculptures carry forward the familiar; very quickly those recognizable elements are subverted and meaning and understanding go haywire. Whether the work operates as conventional sculpture or as props within interactive installations and performances, these typically large-scale works sensitively reflect a culture of humor, violence and vulgarity.
Although he continues to mine pop culture and its stereotypes, in Exile on Main Street, Mike Rea is discovering some edgy new themes. Pulling from the margins of literature and films, he’s taking set pieces that one might barely notice moves them front and center. Chain link fences, bathroom stalls and graffiti are meticulously reproduced in wood to become poetic moments of the desired and the strange. Replicated boom mics place the audience on the set, casting them as complicit participants in his production. Thrown into the mix is a set of three moody masks that hover nearby. The last and perhaps most peculiar sculpture is a large, mute wooden gong that makes the viewer aware of its comedic implications and racial associations. These objects and sets are familiar; they’re almost clichéd in certain filmic and literary genres. Ultimately, it’s the way Rea uses material from the constructed reality of fiction and places it directly in our own. The result is both funny and unnerving.
Mike Rea has exhibited in Chicago at EbersMoore Gallery, ThreeWalls, Heaven Gallery and Western Exhibitions and the Elmhurst Art Museum in Elmhurst. In California, he’s shown at Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco and the Scion Gallery in Culver City. Rea recently participated in the international exhibition/residency Forest Art in Darmstadt, Germany; was featured in the Power of Making at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; and showed at the Kunstmuseum Thurgau, Switzerland. In fall 2014, Rea will have a solo exhibition at the Devos Art Museum, Marquette, Michigan. Rea was born in the south suburbs of Chicago and received his MFA in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mike Rea lives and works in Chicago teaches sculpture at Northern Illinois University.