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Michael Elion’s work deals with aesthetics and visual perception. The highly formal content is drawn largely from the natural world. His interest in representation and language, and their relationship to aesthetics, come together in two seemingly antithetical works. “Drexel”, a microscopic portrait photograph of a fly, blown up to 3m2, confronts “Kate”, a 2m2 canvas painted black, with the words “KATE MOSS”emblazoned on the surface in gold-leaf. Of these conflicting aesthetics Elion says he’s “setting up a dialectic between a predominantly formal aesthetic that is fascinatingly attractive, yet ugly at the same time, with a pure representation of iconic human beauty”. Here, language, image and the imagination compete for similar aesthetic territory in the mind. And, what’s in a name? This attempt at conjuring ambivalence in the viewer reflects Michael’s interest in the mechanics of visual perception and the nature of form in cognitive processes.

Elion’s interest in visual perception is further explored in “Checkmate”, four monochrome, wall- mounted aquariums. Two are black and two white (arranged in chequer pattern), and each has a tropical fish of the opposite colour swimming in the space of the ‘canvas’. In this contrived juxtaposition of black and white elements Elion establishes an irreconcilable, monochrome disjuncture that “defies the inherent desire of the brain for order”. The fact that the fish are alive and moving accentuates a sense of irreconcilability.

Elion’s use of juxtapostion in the presentation of different works serves as an auxilliary perceptual tool. His film “Phenomenon # 2: Questions About God”, derived from refelctions in water, is an ethereal flow of pink and blue light. This diaphonous imagery is counterbalanced by “Onyx Honey”, a large slab of highly patterned translucent rock, gently glowing off a lightbox. Each work acts as a perceptual prosthesis for the other.

Finally “Slick: Oil, Painting” was motivated by a desire to maintiain the seductive tactility of a freshly painted surface. It consists of a 1,8m x 1,8m liquid surface with black engine oil continuously falling (being pumped) over a vertical, wall-mounted plane. “The oil is painting...” and in so doing the work subverts the dilemma of stasis in the painted surface by transferring authorship to the materials themselves.