Michael Ross is based in New York. Recent solo & duo exhibitions include: Michael Ross, Selected Works 1991 – 2015, Ellis King, Dublin (IE), 2016, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York (US), 2006, Lobby project, Swiss Institute, New York (US), 2002, FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon, (FR), 2001. His work was recently included in group exhibitions at Ellis King, Dublin (IE), Cabinet d’Amis: The Accidental Collection of Jan Hoet, curated by Katerina Gregos, Hôtel de la Poste, Brussels (BE), Possible Collection, Honolulu, Zurich, (CH), Ungenau, een selectie uit collectie van het S.M.A.K. (hommage aan Jan Hoet), de Halle, Markt 1, Geel (BE).
Michael Ross is respresented by Ellis King, Dublin (IE)
In his 2002 catalog about Michael Ross curator Jan Hoet praised the artist as ‘pioneer of the subversive small gesture’. For almost two decades Michael Ross, born in New York in 1954, shies away from grandiloquent artistic roar but rather devotes himself to the creation of a universe the size of an inch, a universe made of ripples rather than of tsunamis.
In 1991 Michael Ross filled a single upright wall-mounted metal thimble with the dust from several rooms in his apartment and entitled it: The Smallest Type of Architecture For The Body Containing The Dust From My Bedroom, My Studio, My Living Room, My Dining Room, My Kitchen and My Bathroom. This sculpture, now part of the permanent collection at S.M.A.K. (Ghent), marks the beginning of a fundamental appreciation of the value of the small-scale. Meanwhile his oeuvre evolved from the creation of this essentially ready-made art object towards a consciously constructed visual language, consisting of little scraps of metal, screws and bits of plastic, fabric of paper which the artist hoards like a magpie and ultimately assembles into tiny, carefully composed sculptures - as if the magpie were a watchmaker. Seemingly disparate components form an intriguing unity, demanding attention despite its highly modest appearance, not least because of the expansively suggestive title with which they are garnished.
Small-scale sculptures risk being associated with cutesiness. There is no such risk in the work of Michael Ross. Small though his works may be, as full-fledged architectural and robust sculptures they are firmly burrowed into the wall. The artist’s purposeful choice of materials belies his minute attention to detail. Michael Ross has a preference for metal, fluorescent plastics, luminescent paper or tactile fabrics - materials which enhance the surface of the sculpture and gives way to light.
The formal modesty of the work does not restrain the artist from positioning himself in a larger conceptual and art historical frame. Not only do his titles sometimes exceed the object they describe, they also figuratively surpass the discretion of their tiny appearance and question the idea of scale and magnitude. For instance earlier work like Untitled (Judd) (1995) is a teensy salute to Donald Judd or Bamiyan (2005) is a mini-reminiscence to the colossal statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. On the other hand there is room for poetry or humor, like in the work Shadow Lantern (2016), one of Ross’ numerous works referring to the ghostly Japanese tales of the writer Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1903), or Madam Anime (2016), a metallic manga portrait, both works that will be on display in the gallery.
Since the aforementioned praise of Jan Hoet Michael Ross remains one of few artists dedicating himself to the small-scale dimension, yet he does this in a grand and even brutal manner. Like a ‘true scholar of the tiny kingdom’ he transforms an amalgamation of overlooked minuscule commonplace objects into actual-size sculpture, averse to miniaturisation.