© Michael Schall

Art Review written by Martin Esteves

The fall season in the front room of Pierogi’s main space opens with flashes of light and smoke – or at least drawings of them. With the gallery’s boiler room annex usually reserved for installation and spectacle, the ninth street location seldom strays from the flat files of the entrance. This is rarely a bad thing and with his solo show, Cloud Wall, Michael Schall needs only illustrate the autumnal burst from drawer to wall.

The series of graphite on paper can be divided into two groups – mysterious and unmanned light sources, and caged cloudbursts. The theme of the Light series seems to be that of luminosity unbound from source, be it artificial or supernatural. The supernatural radiance rises from a Pool of Light (2009) at the foot of a mountain face. With no human presence in the drawing, the glow can rise (unnaturally?) from the pond without witness. Lava Tube, likewise, might just depict a reasonably explained source of glare – in this case, the entrance of a cave seen from within – but with the gallery viewer as the lone attestant, the effect becomes ominous.

© Michael Schall

Hoover Dam and Eidophusikan both reveal their light source to be synthetic, but again, with no drawn inhabitants, the light can shoot artificially downward or light an empty stage without the need or want of an audience.

It’s important now to remember that these are drawings (don’t forget to save the actual pyrotechnics for the Boiler Room) and that drawing gradations of light across form is fun – and Schall exploits this fun masterfully – but by depicting the illuminated scenarios (how else to show light?) Schall reveals not just loss of control of nature, but a kind of jealousy of nature’s freedom, even when it is manmade.


Michael Schall at Pierogi (191 N. 9th) thru October 9th, 2011

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