The Motive of Form: Michael Wille at violet poe projects
by Benjamin Gardner
With the history of abstraction and formalism sitting on his shoulders, Michael Wille is using an impersonal and culturally normative vocabulary to create a large-scale assemblage of dense little paintings. His references are to a history so rich and investigated one might see these as a repetition in a culture that begs for the “brand-new” in art. It would be a mistake, however, to write this project off as anything but a reinforcement of and a campaign for abstraction as an integral part of human understanding.
The importance of these pieces is that their reference is not self-evident; they are not explained by theories or narrative. To stand for something like this that has been questioned since the 1950s is to call on the audience to trust in a process that over time proves its validity by being ineffable. Specifically, Wille’s paintings of geometric shapes and a hue-less palate use a basic vocabulary to reference abstraction’s power to transcend verbal and theoretical explanation of meaning; not art for art’s sake necessarily but abstraction for abstraction’s sake, with the “sake” being the unexplainable meaning created by abstraction and its history.
This project is a construction of smaller parts—like bricks or timber—that forms a wall of dynamic and changing composition. At the end of the installation, viewers will take with them a part of this piece with all of its historical meaning, much like the value of materials from an old house or building with the history of everything that has happened within its walls. Each section serves as a monument to the piece as it was assembled and the references to abstraction for its own sake. Each piece is a testament to the power of ineffability.