Michael Samuels, Tragedy of the Commons, 2012 Photo by Beate Sonnenberg and Roberto Rubalcava  
Tragedy of the Commons is Michael Samuels’ most ambitious work to date. Continuing his investigation into sculpture - its formal, material and spatial qualities - Samuels’ new installation relates directly to the architecture of the gallery creating an intervention that divides the physical space.

Samuels continues to utilize Modernist furniture and has recently limited the bright colours of Formica for the more reserved, seemingly sophisticated teak of G-Plan. Deconstructing, reconfiguring and reframing elements of the furniture Samuels draws on the history of abstraction and specifically to the shift in the angulation of the pictorial plane in relation to the viewer.

Four elements with mirroring dimensions are configured throughout the space; they dwarf the viewer and segregate the space. Elements such as utilitarian draws or shelves can be distinguished so that the alliance between abstraction and function is acknowledged. However Samuels resists pure abstraction to create something more immediate, something that is disarmingly familiar and of this world. In employing man-made objects with universally familiar characteristics that relate physically to the human form and the space they inhabit, Samuels confirms that abstraction is only possible in relation to function.
Navigate around the installation – which is slight in width compared to its height - and the functional elements of a number of the parts are more intelligible. The interior of draws are unpolished and used, chipboard is visible as opposed to the veneer previously encountered. Similarly, functional G-clamps and ratchet straps reveal the works construction. The outward and upright display of the vertical picture plane is revealed as a sham and Samuels celebrates the decisive moment in a Western art history, when the terms ‘abstract’ and ‘representational’ were dissected.

Michael Samuels lives and works in London. He has exhibited internationally including recent exhibitions at Ville du Parc Centre d'art Contemporain, France, Kunsthal KAdE, The Netherlands, The Zabludowicz Collection, London, The EDF Foundation, France, LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Spain.


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