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Made to Measure

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Washington Review
Special ARTSITES 98 Edition, Vol XXIV, No. 1, 1998 June/July
Mclean Project for the Arts. Curated by Sarah Tanguy.

Made to Measure takes its title from the practice of haute couture of creating an outfit for a specific body. The exhibition focuses on structure, or more specifically how each artist makes content and structure fit together.

Madalyn Marcus’s paintings juxtapose concrete physicality with abstraction, and view a painting not only as a physical object but also as a form of language. The grid is both a means of organizing the composition and a way to suggest how the thought process itself can become gridlike. Marcus’s format of discreet squares grew out of earlier work, where a grid was painted in. Obvious markings and letters have given way to signs and symbols that draw on intuitive cross-fertilization of sources – construction marks, bark paintings, Greek mathematics and Japanese culture. The layering of warm and cool, muted greens, blues, yellows, greys, browns, and blacks produces a subtle luminosity, while the repetitive strokes and drips evoke slow-moving water. Nebo, titled after the mountain where the dying Moses gazed at the Promised Land, consists of 72 one-foot squares of stretched linen. Each contains an interior square created by a connecting system of diagonal and straight lines. A slightly imperfect alignment allows the edges and shapes to breathe, and endows the entire composition with a sense of movement. In this way, the works reconciles the struggle for an ideal with the concept of infinity.