REAL LIFE SITUATIONS: AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL BHICHITKUL
Leon casino, Prior to the opening of Michael Bhichitkul‘s solo exhibition at Cardoza Fine Art on Friday, I headed to the gallery where the 25-year-old artist took a break from installing to speak with me. Michael’s exhibition, “Real Life Situations,” will be the first solo exhibition in the newly-reimagined gallery space and features nearly two dozen new photographic and sculptural pieces.
FPH: Of your three 2015 solo exhibitions, two were hosted at Public Storage units. What drew you to using storage units?
Michael Bhichitkul: I thought it was just a fun idea to take it out of the gallery space, but also make it just like a gallery space. A lot of my process is “buy and return,” so the storage unit was nothing but “buy and return.” One month is free, you pay $20 to use it and then it’s free game. So if I don’t make money selling artwork or anything, it’s fine. There’s no loss.
FPH: What’s the difference between doing that kind of show and having a show at a gallery like Cardoza Fine Art or Scott Charmin Gallery?
Michael: There’s a lot more compromise, but luckily working with Pablo (Cardoza at Cardoza Fine Art) and Edgar (Meza at Scott Charmin), there’s not that much compromise. So not really much. I guess it really depends on who you work with, or who I work with.
FPH: Your work has a very specific dynamic to it that seems to give a strong appreciation for the mundane. Can you speak to that?
Michael: The mundane is important to me because it’s a reference point that everybody can cling on to and make their own assertion by looking at the rest of the piece. I feel like we’re so familiar with the mundane and it’s not as elite as an abstract painting where you have to think about all these weird stories that probably never existed. I feel like by using mundane objects, it sets an even tone for everyone to start off at the same point and end up wherever they find themselves to be.
FPH: What led to the title “Real Life Situations?”
Michael: I don’t know. They all kind of just come to me. For this show, I’m using all these objects and putting them into situations that are a little askew. There’s a tree painting that is not actually a painting of a tree, but I do have a tree printed on a canvas. Then, that actual tree will be in the space. So it’s a mix of putting these objects in a situation that the viewer can really relate. It’s so common, like the fire cabinet, breaking it if there’s a fire. I wanted that combined with photographs. A lot of people ask about my work and ask if it’s a photograph or is it meant to be a sculpture. For this show, I wanted to have both, so I thought that would be a good mix for the title because the photo looks the same as the object that’s placed in front of you. Whether this one’s real, the other one’s also real, but it’s a copy. Everything’s just mixed up.
FPH: Now, this exhibition is a combination of installation and photographs. Is that a departure for you?
Michael: I don’t want to limit myself to “installation artist” or “photographer” or “sculptor.” I get that a lot with my photos and they’re not photos. They’re sculptural or installation, and my way of showing it to everybody else happens to be in the form of a photo, and then I’m deemed a photographer. I think that’s limiting because what separates a photographer from an artist, in my opinion, is that the artist does multiple things. I kinda wanted to show that here.
FPH: For someone who doesn’t know you and hasn’t seen your work, what should they know going into the exhibition?
Michael: I don’t think they should know anything. I tend to like comments from people I don’t know and especially if they’re not artists or within the art scene, just because those seem more real because there’s no background for them in terms of aesthetics or form and content and things of that nature. All the knowledge that they have is “art is painting,” “art is photography,” “this is an art gallery, so this is what I expect.” Then they come in and it’s just a fun house.
The opening reception for “Real Life Situations” takes place on Friday from 7 to 10 pm at Cardoza Fine Art (805A William St.) and the exhibition will run through March 27.