In her first Robischon Gallery solo exhibition, “Lead Heavy Feather Light,” Texas artist Marcelyn McNeil presents new paintings that balance both the considered with the serendipitous as elements compete against and flow together across the canvas plane. McNeil’s dynamic paintings take form slowly and individually, with a painting process that emphasizes a sense of flatness, as it considers the sculptural in form. Intuitively, the artist finds harmony and clarity between the two through color, as both shape and color unfold in a process of discovery. McNeil often composes utilizing cut-outs and many modes of paint applications - layered, poured and sprayed; bold brushwork, and watery washes of color – all in service to the artist’s idiomatic abstraction. She states “My work is both formal and idiosyncratic. I identify simple clear forms that embody assertiveness, a kind of peculiarity and vulnerability at once. The masses I describe have a way of being both flat and dimensional and I have often thought about sculpture while I paint with the works often a hybrid of structure, architecture, and human anatomy. The process involves taping and pouring and is both controlled and intuitive as I work on the canvas horizontally on the floor as much as on the wall.”
In building on these conceptual concerns, an evolution takes place in the current work of “Lead Heavy Feather Light” – a more meditative and personal response to the fast-paced, chaotic age. As the shift translates to her work, the signature bold forms of McNeil’s compositions share the stage with softer edges and quieter passage ways, which invite the viewer to contemplate and investigate further. Compositional components, such as the two, subtle iridescent gold elements of Yellow Gold Gray give illusory dimension to the diffusely-painted gradation of gray pigments; and in Orange on Pink, the eye-catching orange half circle gives way to the textural wash of its counterpart, the painted pink form located beneath. McNeil considers, “The times we live in have caused me to re-evaluate what’s meaningful to my studio practice. In previous bodies of work, I have been more concerned with animating inanimate form in an off-kilter manner. While this is still of interest, it has become important that the new paintings translate more quietly. Through manipulating materials in a more nuanced way, a lush conversation unfolds between soft and hard form. There are occasions in the work when foreground and background bleed together and blurred surfaces slow down seeing. Working in oils, a confluence of pouring, spraying, gradating and blurring paint combine to encourage a more contemplative meditative experience. As I try to find a kind of soulfulness in inanimate form - intuition, risk, and play inform a rigorous process.”
Marcelyn McNeil has an MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago and a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR. A recent recipient of A Zeta Orionis Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Residency, a 100 W Corsicana Residency, Corsicana, TX as well as a Milton and Sally Avery Fellow at MacDowell Colony, Petersbourough, NH. Additionally, McNeil has been a Sharps- Walentas Studio Program Fellow, Visual Artist of the Year, Decorative Arts Center, Houston, TX and a Hunting Art Prize finalist multiple times, awarded a CAAP Grant, The City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs, a fellowship from The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, and the Purchase Award, The Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR as well as being a repeat artist in New American Paintings (Western Edition).