MICHAEL CAINES: BAD MANNERS: June 7 - 24, 2012
In "Bad Manners", Michael Caines new exhibition of paintings and drawings, the artist attempts to negotiate images drawn from politics, pop songs, painting history, and post colonialism, among other important ideas that begin with the letter P. Influenced by Jürgen Habermas's Wiki entry, and books he intends to someday read by Public Sphere theorist Michael Warner, Caines reacts to his own passive over consumption of media images, and his depressing inability to effect change in either the world or himself, by mashing together ideas that are probably best left un-mashed. Here is an example: Nonobjective painting combined with a sappy McCartney/Stevie Wonder song from the 80s, resulting in the painting, "Ebony and Ivory: Black on Black, White on White".
Caines's futile attempt to have agency over the images he internalizes continues as he fixes George Bush Senior's features onto the face of a little dog ("Georgeous!"), tattoos a man's chest with a slightly pissed off deer, who in turn stares out of a Fragonard landscape ("Bad Manners" 1 & 2), and puts a dog in Native American headdress on the lawn of the White House ("Miss (4) Direction (s)"). Very rude indeed. In fact, the show as a whole betrays a disturbing over-intimacy with canines, combined with a penchant for mild grotesquery, that may leave the viewer wondering if a man like this should be allowed to make paintings depicting justices of the US Supreme Court. He does that too.
To be fair, Caines cannot really be blamed for his failure to generate meaning or value, living as he does in the ass end of an unresisting consumer culture where ideas mix together like so many poorly made 711 Slurpees. Perhaps, in the end, the viewer can take comfort in either a shared sense of failure (this would be a kindness), or a smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority. Either way, the public may rest assured that all is as it was before, and will continue to be so, ad infinitum.
Michael Caines has participated in a number of artist residencies, including the Bemis Center, the Millay Colony, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Among other awards, he has received Avery and Chalmers Fellowships. Caines' first solo exhibition in New York, “Perfect Happiness”, took place in December of 2010 at Mulherin Pollard Projects. “Wild/Tame”, a selection of animal/human themed work from the past ten years of his practice, was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Peterborough in 2011. His satirical book of drawings, “Revelations and Dog” launched in March 2011 in New York at Mark Batty Publisher.