[February 22 2016]
Marianne Vitale’s first solo presentation in California – presented by VENUS over Los Angeles – visits urban terrain familiar to the artist’s recent installations. Incorporating infrastructure staples like wooden beams and steel rail supports, she engages the roughly 15,000 square foot downtown warehouse with two site-specific installations.
Entering the gallery, viewers encounter Thought Field (2016) an expanse of factory-length steel railroad tracks from the 1920s. Vitale has positioned these 60 tons of rail into an immersive and dense field in which physicality becomes paramount. Viewers are enveloped by the strength of the corroded, metallic tracks considering the magnitude of industry, migration, and power associated with the railroad these lines served as skeleton.
In a departure from her typical practice of repurposing found industrial framework, Vitale’s Beam Work is comprised of six looming, eleven-foot stacks of squared white pine which the artist worked over with more traditional painterly and sculptural techniques. These crafted timbers are emblematic of the traffic barricades she previously repositioned into “paintings” and are the culmination of her examination into industrial infrastructure as the building blocks for both urban systems and her own visual process. Upon close examination, viewers note the range of pink and yellow hues as well as intentional carvings that mark an artistic departure from the orange and red palette and normal wear and tear of these sculptures’ utilitarian counterpoints.
Text and photo Cecelia Stucker