Georgia Marsh

Galerie Laage-Salomon

Georgia Marsh hasn’t had a solo exhibition in Paris since 1978 (at the Galerie Gillespie-Laage) when she lived here and her name was Marcia Gillili. At the time, her paintings were constructed according to a geometric scheme, reproducing a minimalist grid with evenly spread primary colors. Was it her intention to return to these memories by showing works, here in the city of her youth, that on one level revisit the grid, but on another level disrupt it? Tucked between the lines, one sees the organic forms that have for several years been the center of her work.

Over the years, Marsh has painted landscapes, trees, branches, and thickets, as well as elements of the cosmos, planets and suns, not as reflections of some romanticized idea of nature, but as objects of study. By painting them in all their detail, in close-up, she lends them an almost abstract quality, thus renewing the tradition of landscape painting. For her, realist and naturalist modes of expression are culturally determined. She considers herself an abstract painter, who, though working from models in nature, wishes to renew the old notion of abstraction by linking it once again to an investigation of the real. Influenced by Taoist and Chinese philosophy, Marsh views all pictorial representation as abstraction, whereas in the West we distinguish between the figurative and the abstract.

In the new paintings shown here, the composition is structured by horizontal bands in which subject and ground are indistinguishable; at times, the bands where the leaves and branches are inscribed stand out, and at others, the more neutral, lighter bands only reveal vague impressions of the subjects, as if the emotive perception of nature had to be masked by a conceptual and abstract structure. In Hasht Bishist (The eight paradises), 1995, the horizontal and vertical bands form a grid, which is crossed by delicate green tendrils that seem to be attempting to conquer some inaccessible paradise.

Looking at these paintings, with their finely nuanced colors, sensual estheticism, evocative titles—The Silk Road, 1994, The Language of the Birds, 1995—and harmonious rhythms, one is tempted to forget the dialectic between figuration and abstraction and to succumb to the simple pleasure of contemplation. But, finally, Marsh's own ideas about painting make such a response impossible: her quite personal practice remains a Western one; it combines a feeling for nature with the intellectual distance that comes from a complex formal process.

Anne Dagbert

Translated from the French by Warren Niesluchowski.