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Michael Mapes"Dutch Female CvV"
Archival prints, insect pins, capsules, acrylic containers, plastic bags, magnifying box. The NY artist examines new subjects and subject matter in two related series of work that intersect unique process and artistic profundity. Mapes's portraits are an extension of his ongoing “Human Specimens” series, portraiture that analyzes the physical and biographical attributes of the artist's subjects. Alongside “Human Specimens,” the artist presents a new series of work examining the elements of vanitas, a type of 17th century still life that served as a reminder of mortality and the trivial nature of earthly pleasures. By deconstructing historical and contemporary symbols of vanity, Mapes has created his own intricate and meditative survey of the vanitastheme. In the shared setting of the gallery, the two series work to both complement and contrast each other. One offers a delicate perspective of life, the other highlights its impermanence. In both series, the artist explores ways to push the scientific metaphor that has become proprietary to his work. Referencing forensic, entomological, and biological sciences through shared materials and compositional conventions, Mapes encourages a reading of the work that is informed by a pseudo-scientific framework with artistic intention. As the curator Brian Hannon wrote, “His unique appropriation of traditional ideas on portraiture and taxonomy convey the inherent tension between a methodical objectivity and an unavoidable psychological subjectivity.” Mapes applies his unique form of classifying and organizing content to these dimensional collages, which seem equal part art and scientific specimens.
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