Michael Ross Invites You to His Tiny Kingdom
In 1991, Michael Ross filled a thimble with dust and christened it The Smallest Type of Architecture For The Body Containing The Dust From My Bedroom, My Studio, My Living-Room, My Kitchen and My Bathroom. Since that first foray into small-scale concerns, the artist has developed into what curator Ralph Rugoff calls “a true scholar of the tiny kingdom.” Though Ross’ collected oeuvre could fit into your pocket, his miniscule works now dot the walls of Ellis King in Dublin.
His work on this scale has earned comparisons to the miniaturized monographs of Marcel Duchamp and Alberto Giacometti, who both found themselves investigating art on a matchbox scale. Unlike those artists, however, Ross deals in smallness as a calling. His assemblages and custom-built objects tend to stray from the cutesiness typically associated with small-scale works, especially as his practice deepened over the years, shifting from the creation of near readymade objects, such as the aforementioned thimble, to more abstract works.
Straightforward pieces like My Favorite Green Shirt in a Hinge (1991) turned into more radical endeavors, like the dense, complicated puzzle of Figment Mechanique (2015). The collection on display at Ellis King bridges both eras, offering a full view of the artist’s development.
The massive, airy gallery is an ideal site for his work. At first, visitors may not even register the tiny artworks. Swamped in a sea of white, they look more like placeholders for spots where bigger art will hang. Upon closer inspection, however, his sculptures reveal themselves to be incredibly detailed. Microtext (Hearn), a metal plate from 2015, even has lines of microscopic text engraved onto its shiny surface.