A Moving Meditation on Mortality in Brice Marden’s Late Paintings

by AryanArtnews
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Brice Marden’s recent paintings and drawings are tentative, soft, sorrowful, angry, vulnerable and open. His work requires gesturing, pressure, and movement to move the surface (which has been true since the beginning of his career), which is tied to what he can physically achieve. Looking back on the career of this prominent artist, there are three basic periods. In his first work, which lasted from 1964 to the mid-1980s, he worked in a single color and was known for his attention to the surface and the tactile yet elusive colors that could be achieved with Encaustic. rice field. His calm paintings had an unmistakable physicality, and there was a tension between the expressive and the understated.

In the second phase, he rethought how to use lines and how to paint, replacing the subtle tactile sensations of Encaustic with diluting oil, and drawing what I once described as “dirty turpentine.” This period was inspired by the window design of Basel Minster. He traveled to North Africa and saw Islamic architecture in Fez and Marrakech. On his trip to Thailand, he began collecting shells, especially swirls, and created layered drawings that were roughly inspired by their markings.And by the exhibition Master of calligraphy, 8th-19th centuries, At the Japan House Gallery and Asia Society in New York (October 4, 1984-January 6, 1985).

In his paintings from this time, he returned to the loop line and used a razor blade to make sure the edges were straight and clean. The lines were flat and graceful and did not resemble Jackson Pollock’s drip painting at all. Marden never thought he had to throw away the past or cite it. He thought it was possible to move forward without agreeing to these well-known choices, and time proved he was right.

Installation drawing Brice Marden: These pictures are themselves In Gagosian, New York (© 2021 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NewYork. PhotobyRobMcKeever. CourtesyGagosian)

While Marden’s meticulous attention and clear visual representation characterize the first two periods, the third period, or what I consider to be his late, changes are inevitable, mortality is rushed. Reveals the artist who knows that, and that art is not a breakwater against time. This perception that the clock is out has had a huge impact on his work and I would endanger his spirit.

It is estimated that this late period began around 2016-17 and used 10 brands of terre verte oil paints to paint 10 paintings of 8 x 6 feet. Each painting was done by one of the brands and the paint was applied to the next layer. The process was gradual and restrained, and as with his previous work, its parameters were thoroughly considered. At that time, Marden was nearly 80 years old.

Marden lightly washed one of the terrestrials over the entire surface. Then he measured the horizon. The result is a square at the top, a solid fill at the top of the vertical format, and a wide band running along the bottom. This composition seems to have been inspired by the proportions of the vertical sketchbook he was using at the time. He then filled the square with a continuous layer of moist, slowly drying paint, allowing a pale stream to drip from the bottom edge of the square into the band below, like a shabby string. By dividing the canvas into two non-uniform areas and covering the surface with strict monochrome, Marden restricted control over the image of the painting and abandoned the ability to determine what happened in the wide band below. ..

Knowing that Botticelli used it as an undercoat for the subject’s meat in works such as “Portrait of a Lady” (Egg Tempera, 1480), Marden also known as Televerte (“Green Earth”). Known) was selected. The translucent skin of the figure. Known as one of the most permanent of all pigments, it causes both moist moss and rot.

Brice Marden, “Prelude” (2011–21), oil and graphite on linen, 96 x 72 inches (© 2021 Brice Marden / Artist Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, courtesy of Gagosian)

For Marden, color is by no means just color. It involves nature, light, and alchemy. From references to sunlight shining through olive groves to the Trinity of colors used in his work at Basel Minster, it seems that he has not yet delved into all the ways colors mean and resonate in his work. ..

These are some of the thoughts, memories and feelings that came to my mind immediately after sitting on the bench in the main gallery of the exhibition. Brice Marden: These paintings are their own, Gagosian (November 13th-December 23rd, 2021), but as I was looking at the work, another idea began to crystallize.

After becoming interested in calligraphy in the late 80’s, Marden Cold mountainA series of black and white paintings, drawings, and etchings inspired by his reading of the legendary Chinese hermit poet Hanshan, translated by Red Pine.In an interview with the painter Pat Steir who appeared in the pamphlet accompanying these works at the exhibition Brice Marden: Cold Mountain, In Dia Chelsea (17 October 1991 – 31 May 1992), Marden said:

At first, I drew the shape of the poem in Chinese, and then used the shape of the poem as a framework to connect the picture and the calligraphy. I am more and more interested in the idea of ​​way and Zen. Cold Mountain poetry is very important about it.

Later he said:

It’s not how to write.I no I’m trying to make a language.

I don’t think it’s Marden teeth I’m trying to make a language, but when I look at the paintings and drawings, I start to think that these works have an athemic element that shouldn’t be ignored. This is especially true for paintings of “chalk” (oil on linen, charcoal, graphite, 96 x 72 inches, 2013-21). This seems to have refreshed everything Marden has done so far. , And exposure.

Brice Marden, “Chalk” (2013–21), oil on linen, charcoal, graphite, 96 x 72 inches (© 2021 Brice Marden / Artist Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, courtesy of Gagosian)

Marden used the same ratio he chose for Televerte’s paintings to demarcate a 6 x 6-foot square, leaving a 2-foot band underneath. Then I used a pencil to divide the square into a grid of 225 squares and placed them on the band. The palette at the top of the painting consists of sandstone red, Chinese red, and ghostly white, while the lower band is green-soaked mustard yellow, diagonally complementary. The band also stirs up the connection with the paintings of Chinese scrolls whose work is attached to yellow silk.

Within each square of the grid, Marden used white to render a rounded shape. Sometimes as open lines, and sometimes as bisected shapes, it evokes natural (ie rock) and linguistic signs. The grid can also be read as a chart, but what? The faint white lines reminiscent of chalk (the title of the picture) suggest an unreadable language, a record that we can only guess, and an impermanent state. On this organically shaped grid of white, he drew a series of lines with red and white paint. One of the white lines seems to define the silhouette of the person. (How do you read it?) Other white lines are used to partially cover the red lines and are sometimes painted from wet to wet, resulting in a particular shade. Part of the red drips into the greenish band.

“Chalk” is a layered painting or palimpsest in which Marden combines various materials (graphite, pencils, oil paints) with two monochromatic grounds to further mark and line over a larger area. In contrast to his control tendencies, which were certainly characteristic of later works such as monochromatic paintings and later works such as “Procious Garden of Planars, 3rd Edition” (2000-6) drawn with 6 panels. In particular, MoMA and Marden have let go since the work of Terre Verte. His use of athemic signs recognizes that not everything can be said in language, and that some of our experience remains unreadable. Still, knowing this, he never reaches the same emptiness twice. He never turns this incompetence into a theme or variation of not being able to write in a language. All pictures are different. According to his previous standards, these works are unfinished and depend on the artist’s aged body.

Installation drawing Brice Marden: These pictures are themselves In Gagosian, New York (© 2021 Brice Marden / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NewYork. PhotobyRobMcKeever. CourtesyGagosian)

In an interview with Stair, Marden recognized the role of time and its impact on the body and refused to evacuate in style.

I’m 5 feet 8½ inches, weigh this much, left-handed, and of a certain age. It has a big impact on what things look like. The kind of mark I can physically make.

Tao has let go of expectations and teaches experts to live here now. If Marden continues the vertical marks on the right edge of the drawing, he will record how the ink runs out and disappears from view without refilling it. The signs he made may not be decipherable, but they spoke straight to my heart. It is a diary of an old man who lives timelessly while conveying his love for a certain place and sight. I think they are one of the most open and inspiring paintings and drawings that Marden has already created in his renowned career.

Brice Marden: These paintings are their own It will continue until December 23 at Gagosian (Manhattan, Chelsea, 541 West 24th Street).

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