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Michael Dweck wows with reinvisioned works at new gallery show at Staley Wise, New York
Installation view of Michael Dweck's Mermaid 105 at Staley Wise Gallery in New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Michael Dweck debuted a compelling series of new work Thursday at the opening of his new show at the Staley Wise Gallery in Soho.

Underwater, which opened to fanfare and rave reviews from a capacity crowd, found the photographer and visual artist appropriating several images from his 2009 book Mermaids, and applying them to “new forms” to extrapolate the work’s larger themes. Underwater will continue at Staley Wise through August 29.

“I shot Mermaids at a time when I was shuttling between New York and Paris, and spending a lot of time both fishing in Montauk and researching impressionism at the d’Orsay Museum,” Dweck said at the gallery opening. “Now, with these new forms, I started to play with a broader narrative about seduction – as well as desire, escape and self-destruction. It’s still impressionistic and abstract, but the application to new vehicles gives a new perspective to the existing narrative.”

In addition to two large canvas prints that factor into the tight narrative of obsession and loss, Dweck also wowed critics with a pair of photographs beautifully displayed on 6’6” surfboards – uniquely handcrafted by MB in California. He also presented a one-of-a-kind color print on a seamless 16’x9’ canvas, which Dweck called “a wallpaper.”

“The board shapes are meant to reflect the subjective character of a strong-cored muse with a refined taper,” said Dweck, best known for the passion-filled Montauk: The End and the ground-breaking Habana Libre. “They are both the vehicle and destination of desire. They represent escape and capture… The wallpaper is a broader commentary about the catch, the reality and the leftover souvenirs of love.”

In addition to form experimentations – and well-received ones at that – the show paid tribute to some of Dweck’s techniques and inspirations. One board entitled Dear "Doc” Edgerton is named for the MIT professor who developed the first technique for underwater flash photography, which Dweck used extensively in Mermaids. “The Duke’s Mermaid” is named for Duke Kananamoku, the father of modern surfing.

“I don’t know how Mermaids could work without [Edgerton’s groundbreaking work],” Dweck said. “And surfing – like photography - has always been a form of escape for me… This is my tribute to the people who helped make these things possible.”

Underwater will continue at Staley Wise through August 29.

Michael Dweck is an American photographer, filmmaker and visual artist.

His work explores endangered subcultures, and had been featured in solo exhibitions around the world (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, Belgium, Hamburg, Tokyo, Toronto, et al.). After successful exhibitions of two extensive bodies of work (Montauk: The End, 2004 and Mermaids, 2009), Dweck exhibited Habana Libre in 2010, becoming the first living artist to have a solo exhibition in Cuba.

Dweck’s first feature-length film, Blunderbust, is an all-access look at the death of a unique race-class at Long Island’s Riverhead Raceway, and be released soon in conjunction with a touring gallery exhibit.

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