Review: Michael Velliquette, "Awaken and Free What Has Been Asleep"

Magical is more than just an adjective in this show.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

A standout in the Museum of Arts & Design's heralded 2009 exhibition "Slash: Paper Under the Knife," Michael Velliquette adds a significant twist to his cut-and-paste paper assemblage technique. Having previously utilized colored card stock, Velliquette has now turned to painting his material, creating a much more varied palette. He's also developed a new vocabulary of forms with the help of sigilization, an occult method for creating magical designs. In Velliquette's hands, this process transforms affirmative statements into symbolic forms, as illustrated by a series of mixed-media notebook drawings titled Good Cyphers 1-12. Meanwhile, the eight new paper sculptures on view show this Wisconsin artist taking his ornamental style of abstraction to greater levels of refinement.

Beast Unbound depicts a kaleidoscopic, lionlike creature with a broken chain on his ankle. Built up from hundreds of layers bound together with hot glue, this crowned king of the jungle becomes emblematic of the desire to be free. Lil' Orphist looks like a colorful cuckoo clock made in a Bavarian candy factory, though it actually references Orphism, an offshoot of early-20th-century painting that blended Cubism and bright colors. By far the strangest piece has to be the triangular Meat Eater, which simultaneously resembles an aerial view of an airport terminal, a Tibetan mandala and a vagina dentata. It's the most revealing example, perhaps, of the multivalence of Velliquette's art: its ability to convey a variety of meanings, and leave itself open to individual interpretation.

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DCKT Contemporary, through May 8;