New YorkHelen Marden: Bitter Light a Year
Marden’s compositions combine vivid color with gesture in a joyful affirmation of life’s energies. Using resin to bind neon bright acrylics and raw powdered pigments with natural substances and found objects, she invests the aesthetics and techniques of expressive abstraction with renewed variety and purpose.
In Noon Tide (2020), Marden adds shells and fragments of glass to a biomorphic form rendered in acid pink, generating a dynamic fusion of the organic and the artificial. The appended elements follow looping skeins of paint traced on the surface of the canvas, suggesting a fluid, symbiotic relationship between the two distinct sets of materials. In Forward (2020), the same pink is joined by translucent fields of red, yellow, and blue, their overlapping shapes hinting at biological entities while stopping just short of figurative representation. Clustered shells appear at once bound to the composition and independent of it; in Evening Tide (2020), two large scallop shell halves resemble wide-open eyes set in a howling visage of pink, blue, turquoise, and deep red.
The exhibition’s poetic title, Bitter Light a Year, suggests hard-won wisdom and anticipates collective emergence from a profoundly challenging time for the planet. In works of endearing and unrestrained vitality, Marden offers an optimistic vision of a world in which environmental forces and human culture might be reconciled and reunited.
HELEN MARDEN, Bitter Light a Year, 2021, installation view © Helen Marden. Photo: Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian