Alexander Kennedy, 'Michael Stumpf' (The List, 14/04/2005)
If art is that which ‘disenchants the disenchanted world’, evidence of its long running romance with fairytale temporarily re-enchants the weary heart of a skeptical viewer. Michael Stump’s mixed media sculptures charge the gallery space with something resembling a ‘beyond’, which is all one can ever hope for, but it is something one very rarely gets. In this age and as always, semblance is everything, so there is little need for ‘smoke and mirrors’, but Stumpf beautifully demonstrates art’s repressed magical proclivities.
Dallas continues her run of staging important work, with Stumpf (based in Glasgow and Karlsruhe, Germany) this time transforming the gallery space into an astral plane, or its more corporeal manifestation, the film set. The German Expressionist film tradition is invoked like an intangible Golem (Paul Wegener’s ‘Der Golem’). The moonlight of Casper David Friedrich’s theatrical nocturnes seems to seep through the branches of ‘Chopchuckchuck in the woods’ – the form of a dead tree growing out of a faux boulder, bearing a found trinket as fruit.
Wagnerian vainglory is ripped asunder. A corner is invested, cancelled and patched with a denim and pewter sash (‘Distraction’), like a silver of dark cloud, a black spear of lightning, the blank flash of fucked reason. Truth to materials is given over to art’s power to reify the mundane, and stall its empty, mechanical whirr. The words, ‘Where they sit together in darkness’ form the text-sculpture of the same name (cast pewter), and act as a way in and out of this rich, symbol-laden narrative.