Magazine article Artforum International

Marta Marce: Riflemaker

Magazine article Artforum International

Marta Marce: Riflemaker

Article excerpt

To inaugurate its new second space in the House of St. Barnabas-in-Soho, an important eighteenth-century building on Soho Square, Riflemaker chose Marta Marce's "Diadem Paintings," which the artist began last year while on a residency at Camden Arts Centre and completed in her studio in Barcelona. The unusual way the paintings were presented, emphasizing their merely temporary occupation of the space, underlined the potential incongruence between contemporary abstract painting and a Grade One-listed regency hall where nothing can be affixed to the wall: Two of the paintings, Flow 1 and Flow 2 (all works 2007), consist of panels laid out on the floor, while the remaining nine paintings were displayed leaning against the walls, either from ledges that are part of the period decor or else lifted off the floor on sawhorselike wooden stands. The mismatch worked perfectly: The resultant mix of laid-back informality and ceremonious embellishment suited Marce's casually formalist aesthetic to a tee.

The Catalonian painter, who now divides her time between Barcelona and London, has long cultivated an analogy between games and painting. At times she has made the connection representationally, in paintings that resemble game boards, but the comparison bears out most compellingly when she instead treats the process of painting as a sequence of "moves" bound by specific rules, albeit rules broad enough to allow for a certain degree of "play" within the structure. In the present instance, Marce was inspired by the tangram, a Chinese puzzle that incorporates five triangles, a square, and a parallelogram. She employed a similar system of movable sections to make the two floor works, expanding the number of pieces from seven to nine. More important, she added simple curves, both concave and convex, to the original game's strictly rectilinear vocabulary. …

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