Spotlight: Larger-Than-Life Notebook Pages by Michael Scoggins Evoke Nostalgia and Humor

The artist is the subject of an online solo show found exclusively on Artnet presented by Adler & Co.

Michael Scoggins with To the Moon (Scout) (2022). Courtesy of Adler & Co.

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What You Need to Know: On view through January 5, 2024, Adler & Co. Gallery is presenting the online solo exhibition “Michael Scoggins: Poignant, Profound, Preposterous, Provocative….and Gigantic!

An Artnet Gallery Network exclusive, the show is comprised of 15 of Scoggins’s signature oversized ruled-paper compositions, created using a range of mediums—from graphite and colored pencil to crayon and acrylic paint—on paper. A contemporized version of trompe l’oeil, the large-scale works employ elements of sculpture through tactile details such as creasing, tearing, or crumpling the parts of the paper, conveying the casual wear and tear that often appears on regular notebook paper. Further, using a deskilled approach to text and drawing, the compositions evoke a sense of nostalgia, with the handwriting, doodles, and drawings referencing the work of children. Still firmly rooted in the traditions of art history, such as the depictions in Marilyn (after Warhol) (2022) or Woman with Bent Knee (after Schiele) 2021, the show on the whole engages with questions around creativity, perception, and memory.

About the Artist: American artist Michael Scoggins (b. 1973) studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and sculpture in 2003, and subsequently at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he received his M.F.A. in 2006. He is widely recognized for his notebook-paper inspired works, which he has been making for over 20 years, inspired by the discovery of his own childhood notebooks filled with drawings and sketches. Struck by the rawness and immediacy they conveyed compared to the formalized paintings he was creating as an adult, he crafted a type of creative alter-ego wherein he works in a childlike and unencumbered style, reflective of 20th-century Dadaism, to create works that explore ideas connected to human nature, emotion, and vulnerability.

Over the course of his career, he has been the subject of solo shows across the United States, and his work is included in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah.

According to the Gallery: “Scoggins’s art is emotionally charged—poignant, preposterous, charming, caustic, ironic, and smart. Combining elements which pull on our collective memories and heartstrings, he seduces us with his brand of sinister satire—designed to embarrass us, highlight our similarities, distinguish our differences, and engender guilty amusement. The artist’s narrative romps encourage us to laugh, and fill us with feelings of nostalgia, melancholy, anger, and frustration. Graceful and edgy, Scoggins provokes deliberation, makes us think and most certainly, charges us to sit up and take notice. As simple as it is sophisticated, as accessible as it is provocative, Scoggins takes on the world like a kid in the schoolyard of life. With precision and a sublimely delicate touch, Scoggins’s meticulously crafts his art to look deceptively effortless, as though it were purchased at some Gulliver-sized Office Depot. In the tradition of the great Pop and contemporary artists, Scoggins redefines the ordinary and familiar and composes a new vision, and has, for the viewer, created an icon for the 21st century in the process.”

See some of the works featured in the exhibition below.

Michael Scoggins, Marilyn (after Warhol) (2022). Courtesy of Adler & Co.

Michael Scoggins, The Birth of Venus (after Botticelli) (2019). Courtesy of Adler & Co.

Michael Scoggins, in her shade (2021). Courtesy of Adler & Co.

Michael Scoggins, Dear Love (2022). Courtesy of Adler & Co.

Michael Scoggins, I Think I Can (2022). Courtesy of Adler & Co.

Michael Scoggins: Poignant, Profound, Preposterous, Provocative….and Gigantic!” is viewable with Adler & Co. Gallery on Artnet.

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