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Michael Samuels' work considers urban life and our relationship to the built environment. On first site his enticing seascapes appear to present an idealized paradise though this is an idyll formed in the mind of a city dweller. Empty and quiet, tranquil and submissive the scenes appear to be intended for escapist pleasure though on closer inspection the rocky land masses actually suggest a darker and more mysterious world; this is a paradise filtered through literature and film, it is intangible and beyond ones reach, lonely and overwhelming.
The seductive blue seas made up of layers of resin are initially gratifying yet Samuels is careful to leave the side of his worlds, which he presents on workbenches, raw; immediately the veneer of the sea jars with the reality of the materials and the commonplace apparatus from which they were conjured. Man's quest for paradise is something unobtainable and contrived; a DIY enthusiast's pursuit for precision and pleasure.
Other scenes are mischievously built upon everyday furniture; urban scenes unfold on coffee tables, again unpopulated these miniature worlds suggest something more sinister and whilst humans may be implicated they never appear. Cars are abandoned under glowing street lamps, worksites are neglected, shopping trolleys are discarded and skips deserted half full. As the viewer closes in on the miniature scenes signs are given which alert of an impending risk, hazard lights flash and police signs tell of missing persons. The carefully selected unassuming domestic objects sit uncomfortably with the perilous and something that is decidedly unsettling.
The accumulation of second-hand and discarded furniture is a recent development in Samuels' work; built into environments, the furniture is stacked and piled hazardously on top of one another. One new large scale work consists of a domestic mountain on the brink of collapse, a miniature rope bridge connects two pieces of furniture suggesting a miniscule heroic adventure on a domestic scale.
Michael Samuels graduated from the Royal College of Art's Sculpture Department in 2000. Recent exhibitions include, Making Journeyís at The Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham The Real Ideal at the Millennium Galleries, Sheffield, a solo exhibition at the Architectural Association, I Want! I Want! at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and a two man exhibition at The Pump House. Later this year his work will be included in Idylle a touring group exhibition which launches at the Phoenix-Hall Hamburg and culminates at the National Gallery, Prague. Work has been included in international exhibitions in New York, Miami, Hong Kong and Basel.
Rokeby will host a gallery brunch during the exhibition on Friday 13 October from 9.00 when visitors can meet Michael Samuels to discuss the exhibition, his work and his practice. The brunch will culminate with an artists talk and tour of Raul Ortega Ayala's commission and installation at the Economist Plaza. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org