Freight+Volume, New York
Michael Scoggins’s oeuvre is a compendium of innocence, embarrassment, failure, secrets, anxiety, obsessive repetition and moments of self-deprecation tempered by hyperbolic flights of self-aggrandizement. Supported by the legacies of the Dada and Pop Art movements, Scoggins employs unpretentious materials common to communication, revelation and confession – specifically, and most prominently, the pages of spiral bound notebooks that meticulously recreates by hand on a grand scale. Scoggins alter-ego, Michael S., who signs all of his work on the front, both is and is not Scoggins himself; he’s a fanciful idea of a child, one whose blunt ideas challenge our position as a viewer. The familiarity of the form evokes an instant nostalgia, but the large sheets are at once both candid and deceitful. The pieces are all shaped, crumpled or torn by the artist, lending them a sculptural quality whether they are meant for the wall, the floor or as suspended mobiles.
Scoggins recently returned to making chalkboard works after being commissioned by the Bass Museum to create a work for their Temporary/Contemporary Program during the Summer of 2014. The chalkboard works find Scoggins writing, rewriting and then erasing the full narrative hidden painterly blurs and smudges. The work suggests that Michael S. is becoming an adult - demonstrating the willingness to conceal his thoughts from the viewer. Partially erased words hint at his emotional state; letters written to unknown recipients are left for the viewer to interpret. They are powerful, intimate works that demand close inspection but will always remain a mystery.