Company Gallery is pleased to present Fat Cat Came to Play, a solo exhibition of new works by Troy Michie. The works on view use photographs, magazine images, clothing objects, paper, wood and clothing patterns to build a body of collaged low relief wall works with an array of substrate materials ranging from Masonite board to tabletops as well as other found objects.
As a result of the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles, which spurred a series of racially motivated riots and attacks across the United States, the zoot suit itself became materially emblematic of a particular lineage that codes race based hate and subcultural repression of black and brown bodies into the material that surrounds the body– stripping the wearer of the right of addressability. When Michie cuts the faces out of photographs from this era he points our attention to this precise addressability and the ways in which these histories remain relevant today. The Blazer of a zoot suit has a distinct broad shoulder, elongated length to just above the knee and extended lapels. The pants rise to a distinguished high waist and balloon at the hip narrowing as the leg extends to a pegged cuff at the ankle. The zoot suit takes liberties and takes up space with an exuberant celebration bordering on flamboyance. The clothing patterns in Michie’s wall work dis-member the body that the pattern is a derivative of in order to re-member a secession of styles. The pattern exists as a kind of ready-made assemblage mingling here with photographs and other materials that Michie affects, building up layers of surface accumulation with paint and color and then returning to sand the various surfaces back out leaving a trace of the pressure mounted through the hand in its wake.
In Disruptive Patterns, an image of a zebra gutted from the belly to its hind quarters is a piercing reminder of the ways which any camouflaged surface will fail when encountered by an unlikely foe. The cut through the imaged zebra sits just under a ribbed neckline removed from a classic white men’s undershirt; the potential of integration via the most ubiquitous of clothing objects is called into question, even rendered hazardous by the Zebra’s example. Some of Michie’s materials such as leather belts, shoes, metal zippers, and shirts, specifically the cotton cuffs of men’s button-down shirts, emerge at the surface of the work, buoyed above the tangle of collage below; even when they are painted back down their dimensionality forms a resistance to flatness with an insistence on legibility and object-ness. Malcolm X described the zoot suit as “a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic’s cell”. Conjuring from the shoulder down an image of a padded interior protecting the flesh body of the zoot-suiter while inevitably implying the involuntary nature of finding oneself in such a place. Troy Michie’s work continuously thinks through the involuntary to locate style as a necessity of the working class that forms the ethos of a time.
-Katherine Hubbard, 2017
TROY MICHIE (b. 1985) is an artist born in El Paso, TX. His group exhibitions include Trigger: Gender As A Tool And A Weapon, New Museum, New York, NY (2017); FOUND: Queer Archaeology; Queer Abstraction, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY (2017); James Baldwin/Jim Brown and the Children, The Artist’s Institute, New York, NY (2016); A Constellation, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY (2015); Outside the Lines: Rites of Spring, Contemporary Art Museum of Houston, Houston, TX (2013); and The Bricoleurs, BRIC Rotunda Gallery, NY (2012). Fat Cat Came To Play is the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York and with Company Gallery.