london

Mike Marshall

UNION Gallery

Before Mike Marshall photographed the scene depicted in Concrete Pavement (all works 2003), it’s quite possible that nobody had ever seen it. Hardly a coup, you might think, since there’s not much to see—an almost abstract expanse of pitted silver gray stone, given comprehensible scale and the faintest of festive airs by fallen leaves (from London plane, that tree beloved by European urban planners because pollution can’t kill it). But that is precisely what makes the spot ideal for this British artist, whose interest lies in anatomizing and reversing the optical hierarchies that preselect “glance” or “gaze” mode in relation to what’s before us. There’s a kind of maudlin comedy to where Marshall, determined to shun the spectacular, chooses to point his eyes. He stares at a wall (Green Wall, pinkish light bouncing off a satiny green surface); he monitors drab rural-urban interfaces (Gravel

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