Michael Dean is concerned with language, signs, meaning. This can make his work sound daunting. But it really isn’t. He makes crazy sculptures from building materials. He also prints books filled with pages of his own invented typographies; if you take a close look you’ll see marijuana leaves forming neat patterns.
In the big, beautiful (and currently blindingly white) space of the South London Gallery these two strands of Dean’s work come together, quite literally; he’s wedged books into his sculptures and scattered pages on the floor.
What does it all mean? The sculptures seem to morph slyly into human figures – sentinels with peephole eyes lined up in family groups – or bits of bodies (I’m sure I saw a mutilated hand pressed into soil). In turn, these figures become like cursive letters. Are they trying to spell something out? Attempting to tell us something?
You could happily spend hours trying to decode this show. But, perhaps the reference to weed is apt. When you’re high, you see things clearly, right? Everything is suddenly illuminated.
Dean’s art is dense with meaning, layered with allusion. It’s intensely clever and intensely visual. It makes you feel alive. And you don’t need to smoke a fat one to appreciate it.
BY: FISUN GUNER