Cuts You Up
July 21 – September 2, 2023
Gallery Two
  • Exhibition Opening
    Friday July 21, 2023 / 5 – 8PM

Exhibition Text


ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to announce Cuts You Up, a solo exhibition of new works from Michael Bühler-Rose in Gallery Two. The exhibition opens Friday, July 21st and continues through Saturday, September 2, 2023. This is his first exhibition in Chicago and with the gallery.

Cuts You Up presents a series of conceptual mix tapes, poetically titled with dedications to other artists designated only by their initials, as well as a large wall work that draws from popular music and art history and is directly related to the artist’s ongoing studiolo series that explores one’s inner life through collections. All of these wall works have been meticulously produced by way of wood intarsia, a process of creating mosaic-like imagery though the use of different species (and thus, colors) of wood.

New York and Mysore-based conceptual artist Michael Bühler-Rose regularly draws from his own experiences growing up in the Hare Krishna movement and participating in the punk & hardcore music scenes, as well as studying and practicing orthodox Vaishnava/Hindu ritualism. His studio practice over the years has reflected these collective experiences. Recently, he began working with artisans in Mysore, South India to produce wood intarsia works. He first connected with his collaborators through his spiritual practice, while overseeing the production of religious items for ritual use in Hindu temples across the world.

After nearly 30 years of disciplined practice— studying philosophy and Sanskrit, serving in ashrams in India as a young monk, and as a ritual Brahmin priest as an adult— Bühler-Rose went through a transformative experience in 2020, which in part culminated in the separation from his partner of 20 years. This critical moment brought him the opportunity to assess his own rubric as a spiritual practitioner and conceptual artist. It forced him to reassess the previous ideas he had of himself and take a deeper look at his identity and purpose, his relationship to his artistic and spiritual predecessors, as well as his immediate community.

The title of this exhibition, Cuts You Up, is taken from the popular 1989 song by former Bauhaus lead singer Peter Murphy, but it also captures something very immediately personal for the artist. When asked what “cuts you up and spits you out?” Murphy explained, “the path of discovery, self-knowledge, wisdom… once you feel you have it. Then the path will spit you out, or off the way, and ruin your assumptions of this path.”

This desire to cut up and reassemble is at the heart of Bühler-Rose’s exhibition. In his series of “Mixtapes for Artists,” he references his own personal collection of tapes, borrowing from their titles and original brand names, while also riffing newly on the artists to whom they are dedicated. Although these conceptual playlists cannot be heard, the titles and look of the particular cassette tape are highly suggestive and evocative, allowing the viewer to imagine the songs that are included on each. There is a playfulness at work in the artist’s titles and dedications. One of the works included, “Cuts You Up (for G.M.C.),” references Gordon Matta-Clark, renowned for literally cutting up spaces and activating them as a new concept.

Bühler-Rose also presents a large trompe-l’œil panel depicting scattered vinyl records by Murphy, a shattered Frank Stella museum-store puzzle, fading flowers, and books on Matisse’s late career cut-outs. The very process of intarsia, the presence of a puzzle in mid-assembly, and references to Matisse all convey a layered meditation on cutting up and collaging back together. With these works, Bühler-Rose acknowledges a long life of constant breaks and fissures, reassessments and connections to his partner, community, and self, that often become stronger and nuanced over time.

MICHAEL BÜHLER-ROSE (American, b. 1980) lives and works in New York, NY and Mysore, India. He received his BFA from School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston at Tufts University in 2005, a Fulbright (India) in 2006 and his MFA from University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2008. He has had solo exhibitions at Carroll and Sons (Boston, MA); Scaramouche (New York, NY); Light Work (Syracuse, NY); and the Everson Museum (Syracuse, NY). He was part of a two-person exhibition with A.A. Bronson at Nature Morte (Berlin, Germany) in 2013. Recent group exhibitions include Monash Gallery of Art (Victoria, Australia); Leroy Neiman Gallery at Columbia University (New York, NY); Jimei x Arles (Jimei, China); Johannes Vogt Gallery (New York, NY); and MassArt (Boston, MA). He has exhibited at art fairs in New York, Chicago, New Delhi and Miami. His newest work was most recently exhibited in a solo presentation at NADA Miami in 2022 with New Discretions (New York, NY). He is included in numerous public and private collections. This is his first exhibition with the gallery.