Barbara Marks

Painting(s) from Recollection at The Painting Center, NYC, 2018
 

P a i n t i n g s

I make small-scale, square, colorful paintings. My imagery is rooted in observation and it departs from it. I like to call attention to the commonplace and the local. I look where others don’t. There’s the external world—and then there’s me. My paintings are the intersection of the two. In that respect, they are intimate and personal; perhaps they’re narrative.

I choose to paint ordinary situations and particular places by manipulating color, shape, and composition in such a way that the possibility of multiple interpretations engages a viewer and invites closer investigation.

The way I paint is driven by my interest in abstraction as economy of expression, and by my fascination with the dual role that color can play both as content and as structure in a painting. I use color to create space.
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My ongoing project—Recollection—is composed of sets of paintings made in a variety of places; serially they’re an evolving visual record. I’ve completed 148 paintings to date, with the intent to grow the series into an aggregate composed of many more small-scale paintings that, when installed as a whole, assumes a monumental scale and, at the same time, encourages intimate interaction.

“The works in the ‘Recollection’ series are untitled (except by number and place-name), and the associations that we might make with their origin offer us the pleasure of inventing titles of our own. Leaving that effort to the viewer, Barbara Marks signals her commitment to the independence of her paintings from a fixed interpretation—in favor of a continuum of meaning.”  —Rebecca Allan, [excerpt from Painting(s) from Recollection catalogue essay]
 
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D r a w i n g s

I make paintings—but drawing is my habit. I draw every day, any place, and everywhere. Much of my imagery comes from direct observation, but some of my drawings have moved into the realm of memory and imagination. I draw mostly with an extra-superfine black Indian ink pen and sometimes I draw with colored ink.

For the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been drawing in accordion-fold albums. Each album, when expanded, contains twenty-four accordion pages on one continuous sheet of drawing paper, 123 inches long x 8.25 inches high, folded into a hardbound cover. To date, I’ve filled 170 albums with 1700+ feet of drawings.
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I n s i d e  O u t
 
My latest project is an evolving series of “upcycled” works on collapsed, disassembled packaging—formerly containing such ordinary consumables as bar soap, chocolate, tissues, crackers, personal care items, and so on—creatively reusing something meant to be disposed of by reëmploying it as the substrate for drawings and paintings.

I began the project on New Year’s Day with a spur-of-the-moment drawing on the inside of an about-to-be-recycled butter box. One thing led to another and, instead of recycling, I found myself drawn to drawing on these things—attracted to the asymmetry of a flattened container and its complex of planes, tabs, flaps, score-lines and fold-bumps that comprise the geometry of a box. Eventually I started to paint on the boxes, still confining myself to the inside of a box; thinking of it as a wall-mounted 2D piece. In changing light, the box casts interesting shadows on itself and on the wall.

A very recent switch in materials, from surface-vulnerable acryla gouache and Flashe paints to acrylic paint and mediums, was a catalyst to painting on both sides of a box. Now I’m thinking of these duplex works as 3D/sculptural, pushing my work into new territory—an exploration and practical realization of which I will continue to work on in preparation for a 2020 solo exhibition in NYC.
 
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W o v e n  C o m p o s i t i o n s

Very recently I’ve been making woven compositions—aka potholders—using a metal loom and mass-produced cotton loops. I like working with limitations—the “stock” colors of the loops … and with math—how many unique colors … quantity of loops per color … the number of hooks on a loom’s axes (18 or 27) … And I like thinking in 3s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 9s, and so on. It becomes an obsession.

My drawings inform my paintings inform my drawings inform my weavings. Color is the nexus.