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mh PROJECT ノコギリニ 





Doormat Paintings

Photo by Paul Takeuchi

Michael Tarbi has spent the last decade exploring the idea of ‘home’ in a variety of mediums. His main subject for this study has been the doormat. As an object, the doormat’s purpose is to collect the dirt and debris that we bring in from the outside world. It is the first thing that you see to welcome you home and the last thing you touch upon leaving. Its message can be warm or cold depending on what the resident decides to convey. For many people, our country has become a home that sends a constant stream of mixed messages. Tarbi expresses this by using text within the installation. Viewers must stare down at their feet to examine these miniature works, while being confronted with the opposing messages of Welcome and GO AWAY. Size plays an important role in how people are affected upon entering the room. Each doormat is one quarter scale in order to address our society’s ability trivialize it’s major problems. Together, these works create a dialogue about what it means to be an American in the current state of our country.

The doormats also raise a number of questions regarding labels. Are they paintings or objects? Can a work of art operate as a pure abstraction and a representational image simultaneously? The pieces without text have elements of minimalism, op art and design. Their simplicity inspires the viewer to observe the mundane from an entirely different perspective. Tarbi uses a wide range of techniques to avoid being categorized, from scraping into the paint with a needle to chopping up his brushes and incorporating them into the work. Each doormat explores a different process, trading the confines of personal style for unlimited possibilities. The addition of borders become frames for the images but also calls attention to them as objects. Collectively, the viewers, with their heads pointed down towards the doormats, become a work of meta-art.

Michael Tarbi (b. 1980, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) has been the subject of numerous solo and two-person exhibitions throughout the United States. His first one-person exhibition took place at Thomas Robertello Gallery, Chicago (2006). Museum and group exhibitions include the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washingtion D.C.; MASS MoCA, North Adams, James Cohan Gallery, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. Since 2010, the Doormat series has been included in the Pierogi Flat Files and the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, New York, as well as in group shows including Unhinged, Pierogi, New York, and HOME, Collar Works, Troy, NY, curated by Cara Manes, Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA. In 2011, Tarbi was awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. The artist currently lives and works in Hudson Valley, New York.