(this page was last updated in July 2018)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1968.
Lives and works in London, UK.
PIPA Prize 2018 nominee.
Marcia Thompson’s paintings are predicated on expansion. The color itself is staged as an event. We are confronted with bodies of color with a canvas core. The paint turns into skin, becomes flesh. One of the central points of Marcia Thompson’s poetic is to establish a zero-degree of a painting, where we come upon the total lack of narrative and what remains is nothing more than a DNA of the painting.
Video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2018:
not titled, what?, 2014, 01’05”
vanishing point, 2005, 01’07”
vanishing line, 1998, 01’31”
“The Role of Image I”
by Paula Terra Neale, 2017
Extract from text for the exhibition at One Paved Court Gallery in Richmond, London, featuring Marcia Thompson, Marcos Chaves and Carla Guagliardi
Although the three artists are from the same generation, neighbourhood and background, and are also friends, the concepts and media of their works are quite diverse and the show intends to explore this balance between Marcos CHAVES’ photographs, Carla GUAGLIARDI’s sculptures and Marcia THOMPSON’s objects.
Marcia Thompson is a Brazilian artist who lives and works in London and has a good track record of international exhibitions. Thompson’s work occupies the gallery space creating an expanded field, so that even a small work can impregnate the space it is surrounded by. The work is more like a happening. However, the artist uses conventional artistic materials such as paint, drawing notebooks, paper, graphite but in a totally unconventional way. She uses paint in a three-dimensional way, makes pencil drawings on lined paper that look like objects when hanging on the walls, and turns cheap printed daily newspaper into precious little objects not by taking note of their words but using the ink on paper as colour patches. She interferes with subtle actions subverting normality, both in the objects and the way they are exhibited.
Thompson’s boxes of colour are imbued with the spirit of constructivism thus achieving purity in art and its essence. Pure primary colours, reds, blues and yellows, are re-interpreted via neo- concrete ‘carioca’ experimentalism, which she says that she absorbed in an almost unconscious way. Her oil paintings are not flat, but three-dimensional, and represent nothing. They sit in the borders between painting and objects, in black, white and sometimes in strong primary colour. There is always something of an act, a gesture, a labouring work, a physical doing in Thompson’s works: cutting, drawing, collating, filing, adding, plastering, She needs to be mentally and physically engaged with the work.
Her Bloquinhos/Small notepads, are these just simple and basic notepad leaves with subtle touches by the artist. She uses the most ordinary pieces of paper one can find, and then subverts the geometry of the lines by filling the gaps with other lines or erasing and blurring the lines – playing around with the stablished order and claiming our attention to discreet details of the work. They are also displayed in a playful way, as if exploring with the geometry of chance. Thompson picks out the individual holes already left there on top of the page by the notepad spiral and rearranges the way in which they hang on and the way we see the lines; creating a new disposition for the page in space, on the wall and in our lives. What if the horizon line is no longer where we are used to see it?
As she fill out or erases spaces between the printed lines of the stationery she is leaving her traces. Her work is like a whisper – you got to listen to it very closely. She plays with music sheets, space is silence but the music in in our minds. In a world absolutely saturated by images her little pieces of paper nailed to the wall offer us a chance to be, they are little philosophical remarks reminding us of our own status as sublime creatures capable of creating beauty, and that art is precious even if made of little nothings.
“MARCIA THOMPSON: B.L.O.C.O.S”
by Gabriela Davies, 2017
For the catalogue of the solo exhibition at Janaina Torres Gallery, São Paulo
At the base of every language, there is grammar. The formation of each word depends on a series of meanings and associations which enables it to be understood as a whole. However, in the beginning of the learning process we acknowledge the words in a divided and dissected way, as each letter by itself. Letters, therefore, are forms that individualise themselves from words so they can assemble with others freely.
Based upon the first writings of her children, Marcia created a series of drawings on ruled paper that follows the repetitive and optimistic strokes of the children who do not yet understand the function of the lines. Each letter is traced in a different manner and in different sizes, extrapolating the lines and giving the impression that the matter is independent from the surface that comprises it, in this case, oil on pastel.
The letters gain autonomy when following their own route, and are eventually translated into oil paint matter. Canvases drenched in distinct hues of reds are framed in acrylic boxes and placed in a sequence so they echo the letters on the ruled paper. Each box holds its own story, keeping within itself materials derived from the language of painting: canvas, oil paint and frame, which separates the pictorial from the real world. There is an order that keeps the elements together which is defied by matter’s own nature.
The form creates this order. Marcia Thompson uses simple forms enabling easy comprehension. It is the lines of the ruled paper or horizons, the circle of the letters or jumbled fabric, and also the square of the acrylic boxes, paper pads or canvases. The order, therefore, is linked to the non-complexity, to the primary concept of the circles and squares, to the abc of a discreet geometry. The very colours of the works also conform to these primary parameters of colour charts used by artists: red, blue, yellow.
The rupture of the order is caused by the material itself.To confine the paint inside a box simulates its behaviour inside the tube which keeps it humid, functional, alive. The paint – the colour – is organic. It continues to paint, now in an autonomous, unique and uncontrollable way, the impeccably crystalline walls of the acrylic boxes as a form of rebellion. The colour, at last, stains the acrylic glass adding life to the transparency, to the form.
Even the colour withdraw from its primary standards. The red isn’t unique but a variety of hues, also dismantling the elementary and compartmentalised condition of the colour codes. Additionally, the heavy canvas of blue paint reflects the ambient light, brightening parts that contrast with the shadows cast by the volume of the matter. The blue existent on the canvas isn’t just one. The wave of the marked brush, once more, trespass the limits of the chassis, taking possession of almost all its barriers and creating eventually another encounter between the order and its interference.
“Marcia Thompson’s residual artworks”
by Saulo di Tarso, 2017
For the solo exhibition at Janaina Torres Gallery, São Paulo
The visual arts in Brazil are going through one of its biggest periods of silence. Partly because Brazilian artists and curators educated themselves with the mannerism of being accepted into the international scene and with that a corridor of mimesis was created in the direction of Conceptual Art and Minimalism.
To some extent, because the art critics either rejects Brazilian artists who copy international renowned artists, or likewise, to a group of artists who follows international market trends, and therefore, lose the capacity to establish a theoretical path to maximise what some Brazilian artists like Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, the Campos brothers, Luis Sacilotto and recently Cildo Meireles and Adriana Varejão have been creating in Brazilian art: the inclusion in the international art scene, adding relevance to the crucial development of art as language.
Marcia Thompson’s work is a case of subtlety inside many questions hidden behind or not widely covered in the horizon of the contemporary painting. What she makes is not concrete, minimalist, graphic, sculptural, pictorial, let alone object or imaterial painting (which as a trend of the death of painting, endorses the conceptualism through the exhaustion of painting).
Pieces like the cube “Untitled” (15x15x15cm) could relate to the paintings of Fabio Miguez, just as her mini reams of paper and drawings with saturated straight lines could remind us of Mira Schendel. What Concrete Art discussed on a level of concrete reality belonged still to the planar space before the nanometric dimension and in Marcia Thompson’s context it is already, in terms of materiality, a residue intuitively exposed which aims for the nanometric space registers.
Being one of the most perfect technologies, painting still has a place in the digital era.
The body of works, allegedly harmless, displayed at Janaína Torres Gallery, reveals this characteristic which is the labour of an artist whose greater perspicacity was to have confronted the art of minimising painting, transforming simplification in accumulation. I say that because Modern painting wanted to reduce painting to its syntactical elements. And Contemporary Art can simplify art but it deals inevitably with the accumulation and associativity instead of the original creativity.
This accumulation is where the answer of Brazilian art in the contemporary scene is. However, decades ago, withstanding the approximation of Brazilian and international art, there were the bad analogies from the critics, which took away the legitimacy of the artists who delivered enormous contributions to art.
Examples? Has someone already made a superficial analogy between Bridget Riley and Luís Sacilotto or between Rothko and Ianelli or some stains of Barrio and Tàpies? What really distinguishes a Tobey from a Pollock? This is a point to reflect.
As indeed Luisa Duarte very clearly defined, Thompson’s paintings are in the “zero degree of painting”.
One may wonder when the Brazilian art critics and their powerful curators will become aware of their own zero degree of critic and perceive the direction of Brazilian art beyond institutional and inter-marketing schemes with limited input.
And like these, many other considerations require more than artificial analogies to put the Brazilian production in the rightful visual intelligence threshold.
The subject of Marcia Thompson’s exhibition at Janaína Torres Gallery in São Paulo opens the gap for this argument because the imprecise Babel of her artworks is impregnated with a Brazilian contribution, which since it is painting, starts with Iberê Camargo’s oil bars. Marcia, as a contemporary of Casa 7, chooses the flat surface, restructures ideas of the line by accumulation and reassembles the crushed body of the painting to everything that the Minimalism, son of Modern Art, seemed to had consumed with Richard Serra.
Likewise the colourless accumulation in Thompson’s artwork, from the epistemological point of view, is the same accumulation featured in the works of Paulo Bruscky. And, at the same time, without embracing the chaos, she finishes the work outside the work, differently to Tunga and Nuno Ramos, who bet in a hyper-accumulation without depuration.
The depuration of the Minimalism and the Concretism of straight lines is maybe the most interesting thing in this artist’s work, who finds paths not new but which points out to a new direction in abstract painting. Marcia indicates the end of pure abstraction, which is the example of Fabio Miguez and Paulo Monteiro, but with a subtlety of a type of feminine perception, that is sculpture when she draws, architecture when she sculpts, and sculpture when she paints.
It is a work that demands we put aside the semi-critic view point on Brazilian Art and make an effort to really create new values about making and collecting.
Here a notion of school in art: Marcia Thompson belongs to this group of artists – the ones who disclose a new tradition after the Neoconcretism.
Her paintings predict, more than innovate, the meaning that it is important to respect the connection and the whole cycle of what Brazilian Art have been discussing for decades, until new phenomenons appear, without the dependence of critical submission and mannerisms of the so called vanguards that hide what is important at heart: the art and the breakthrough that it creates slowly during centuries through the artists who work earnestly in their vocation, without fear of looking like a basic artist from any place and time.
Because in Contemporary Art, as well as in the art of any era, opening new paths is just as important as deepening the ones which are already there.
by Christoph Tannert, 2016
Extract from the exhibition opening speech of INSCAPE at Kunsthaus Erfurt
The exhibition title, INSCAPE, may sound a bit cryptic. It is best to interpret it in the sense of ‘painting and its immanence, its essence’.
Marcia Thompson’s paintings are predicated on expansion: the gestural work of the brush is gone, the painting is literally transposed into another dimension. The color itself is staged as an event, as a mass, as an object. We are confronted with bodies of color with a canvas core. The color becomes thick, it stretches, it breaks out, intervenes and creates a space of its own, which disregards the pictorial space, the canvas and the stretcher frame as much as the human proportions or the eye level.
It is incredible how the painting becomes independent of the experience of volume and space. The block of accumulated color establishes its own realm. This realm of the pictorial is the visible trace of the imagination, a space for thought within the dimensions of concrete space. INSCAPE reveals the current strengths of painting. It is precisely here – in its quiet reserves, from which they emerge unexpectedly and help boost the flagging Zeitgeist – that one can find a reason why painting, despite all the challenges and despite some hostilities (to which the medium was exposed, in parallel to the transformations of an advancing Modernity), continues to impose itself cheekily.
by Luisa Duarte, 2014
For the solo exhibition at Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro
As it has already been said, Marcia Thompson’s work is affiliated with a segment of art which has its roots in the Pos-Minimalism. Eva Hesse is the best example of a representative name from this period and her work is an inspiration for the artist. If the minimal, as well as the Conceptualism, seeks for a disincarnate art, well rooted in the modern art grid; the post- minimalists, like Hesse, Serra, De Maria, will precisely present a carnality previously non- existent in the workmanship. The core of the subject leaves traces and the hand-made quality becomes evident. In Thompson’s work the modular and serialized base of Minimalism remains, but precisely to be deflected, subverted.
In “Chromes”, solo show at Mercedes Viegas Gallery, paintings, drawings, objects and videos follow-up an investigation which dates back to the 90s. At the time the artist had started a research in the pictorial field, but with a completely distinctive accent other than all we had seen in the so called “revival of painting” that took place in the 80s. If then, a neoexpressionism dominates the scene and the palette was cloudy, Thompson’s steps went in the opposite direction.
In electing only the white as the colour of her works, the artist has taken the first step in her method where less is more. What we see today is a continuation of those times, the difference being that the presence of the colour has been truly embraced. The choice of using exclusively white relates to Piero Manzoni’s “Achromes”. This decision assisted the artist in one of the central points of her poetic; that is, to establish a zero-degree of a painting, where we come upon the total lack of narrative and what remains is nothing more than a DNA of the painting. One should bare in mind that there is a subtle boundary between the disincarnate art of the minimal and the one that adds temperature, sensuality, carnal traces to the work of art. The blocks of oil paint in acrylic boxes, the different chunks of colour on the raw canvas, the tortuous dots that appear when the paint passes through the gaps of the surface, the ruled paper cautiously subverted, all these, added to a powerful use of colour – oranges, blues, reds, yellows – create tension between the modular, the serialized experience and the one of the difference; between the distance of abstraction and the proximity of the paint that turns into skin, becomes flesh.
Each of those works is unique. They all resemble, but they are never the same. If there is a geometry, it is a sensitive one; not analytic, distant. The works make use of the grid codes, the modular codes; to then create a twist that points out to a universe closer to life, with its unavoidable dose of chance and unpredictability. Using an unsuspected method, that makes use of repetition to establish the difference, Thompson asks for attentive eyes to perceive the singularities in the midst of what always seems the same. True to undertones, and not to the uproar that takes over the world out there, these pieces make the silence an expressive part of the artwork. As in the gaps of a music composition or the spaces between the lines of a poem, it is necessary to hear the intervals, read the pauses so that we can understand the sense of the whole. It is precisely in the most delicate spaces between lines that reside the captivating balance between refinement and carnality stressed powerfully in “Chromes”, and reveals the core of Marcia Thompson’s work over the last 20 years.
by Gabriela Salgado, 2011
For the solo exhibition at Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro
…Eu mesmo mentindo devo argumentar Que isso é bossa nova que isso é muito natural..
The lyrics of João Gilberto Desafinado set out to praise the value of a melody sung out of tune, from the heart, as if in its misalignment the music would enter into a new sonic territory made of natural dissonances. In her latest show Desalinho, the most recent work by London-based artist Marcia Thompson articulates a similar move towards a different order of the visual field, where the tone is found outside the norm. Supported by a process of thought that links the hand with an almost Zen concept of void, she makes an art where white reigns over all sorts of artifice and materials behave in unprecedented ways. For a number of years, Marcia’s choice of white has been a trademark of her works in a variety of mediums: from paper to silicon and oil paint volumes, from painting frames to lacework, in which an unorthodox interaction of materials produces unexpected visual and textural effects.
In one of the most important theoretical documents of abstract art The Non-Objective World, Kasimir Malevich wrote: ‘In the year 1913, trying desperately to free art from the dead weight of the real world, I took refuge in the form of the square’. Malevich interest in theosophy prompted him towards a quest of the spirit, of what he called ‘a non-objective sensation and infinity’. In a similar manner, Marcia’s works seem to aspire to recreate a sense of infinity with the simple gestures of her hand-crafted objects and the choice of the empty square – the frame – as a container of her imagination.
In her series of works on paper, the repetition of lines and dots could be seen to draw from minimalism and conceptualism, but somehow pervert such referents in introducing a kind of codification that allows the emergence of individual notes among a multitude of similar marks. Born out of patterns of thought or perhaps, meditative exercises, the drawings evolve in sequence from uniform reiteration into subjective representation but without referencing the world outside, and rather echoing some internal moments of enlightenment. In this vein, the employment of a music score as support and the introduction of gold paint in her Untitled from 2005, produce an emotional notation like the luminosity of an abyss from whose edge we could immerse ourselves in the golden sound of a coral reef.
Nature is addressed laterally in her intervened photograph – Untitled, 2010 – where we see a forest through the interstices of a fence drawn on its surface with silver pen: the natural world becomes thus filtered by the veil of subjective perception.
In the gallery ceiling tiny canopies of lace offer shelter to our eyes, restoring the labour of amorous women’s hands to the construction of abstracts artworks. In the wall-based pieces, the painting surface is turned into stalactite-like topography made of sculpted silicon emerging from the lace, while in another piece, oil paint invades the frame evoking white molluscs attaching themselves to rocks on the beach.
Desalinhos is a space of monochrome volumes and lines that sing a soft melody of unique resonances, as in Cagean composition. A white flora and fauna suspended in the humid light of the tropics.
“The Singularity in the Collectiveness”
by Ligia Conongia, 2005
For the solo exhibition at Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro
Something in Marcia Thompson’s poetics reminds us of Eva Hesse’s work. Post-minimalist and therefore adverse to the modular strictness of the minimal aesthetics, Hesse, however, started from a beginning very close to the minimalist series to deconstruct then just afterwards. It was a matter of the work rising against the anodic modules and the schematic progression of the movement that preceded it, precisely from its own base system. In this manner, Hesse built sculptures with elements that seemed to be in modules, or that seemed to be aligned through a mechanical arrangement of lines or volumes in a programmed expansion, to show that each element there had its own unique identity, frustrating the initial idea of the series.
Marcia Thompson also seems to play with the dichotomy between the unique and the serial, between the continuous and the discontinuous, aiming to dissimulate for the uninformed gaze, the singularities in a supposedly homogeneous whole. One cannot deny that there is a prior composition predetermined and even meticulous, that can come to light through small, repetitive volumes of white paint, stripes of paper of the same size or a film sequence of an equivalent parting of hair of various heads. Meanwhile, what was the ‘same’ becomes ‘other’, in so far as the initial progression of the arrangement deforms, disconnects or entangles within themselves.
More delicate than Hesse in the material aspect of the work, this delicacy or lack of physical power of the materials, that reveals itself in white, transparencies, laces and the thinness of the paper, is reverted immediately into power of meaning. It is through the subtlety of the colour and the almost indelible substance of the frame that the artist reinforces the stratagem of the work: The inattention of the hasty spectator who does not perceive the specificness of the differences, the snare of the trompe-l’oeil that presents itself as uniform when discontinuous and singular, and more, the subsequent surprise on recognising as single unities what was lost or concealed in the repetition.
The elements, set down in colonies, produce a multi-focal optic vibration that highlights the vision of the whole as condensation, indivisible, ignoring its particularities.
The work requires that, bearing an imaginary magnifying glass, we penetrate in the network of its pointillism or in between its innumerous layers of matter in order to observe that even in the superposition, repetition or concentration, the singularities are kept – even if under molecular features.
As Hesse, Thompson denounces the ideal nature of the notion of series and repetition, something that mathematics had already contested, showing that at the core of the concept of repetition, there is a permanent tension between the same and the different. In this way, the ascetic and repetitive ideal of minimalism can be seen as disjointed in its purist demands as much as in the work of the Brazilian artist as in the work of the North American’s, through subtle strategies of deconstruction which recover the reality of the accidents, the formless and the imponderable in the threads of the art.
Even when restrained in boxes or in well defined perimeters of containment, the single elements of these arrays portray a multiple and broken visual orderliness, revealing the nature of its mobility. To the minimalist gestalt, Marcia Thompson confronts unstable constructions that point out with delicacy, the clash between the order and the chaos. It is from this contradiction that the artist nourishes herself to create the conflict between the form, individual and precise, and the whole, gathered in a random mass.
Another feature that remains constant in Marcia Thompson’s work, since the beginning of her career in the 90’s, is her connection with painting. The pictorial universe, however, was gradually being refined until the total renouncement of the canvas, the chromatic reduction to the white and the transformation of the paint in a substance of sculptural density. In this manner, the thick texture of the small volumes of white paint or silicone, instead of being spread over the surface, framework of the tradition, condense themselves in colonies of nodules or in volumetric entanglements, like objects. The reversal of the pictorial apparatus into sculptural matter, or the acting in the intersection line between these two mediums, is part of the games of the modern ambiguity since the cubist collages, with contemporary peaks in the work of Frank Stella or a Anselm Kiefer. But, Thompson’s statement, far from the expressionist exuberance of these masters, restores the sense of economy and condensation of the first post- minimalists (like Hesse and Serra), rendering the narrative clean when before it was made through excess.
“Sculptures of Paint”
By Pontus Kyander, 2002
Extract from text for the exhibition Overlap at Aahus Kunstbygning, Denmark
Maybe it is a matter of time. Time and patience, and paint. Many of Marcia Thompson’s works result from processes of enduring work, repetitive acts founded on the most basic grammar of painting and sculpting. The painting is a memory of actions; looking at it is also to some extent tracing its beginnings, sometimes all the way back to the painterly materials and untouched support.
Dots are added to dots, meticulously, row after row. Sometimes it takes weeks or months for the paint to harden. In other works, sheets of white paper are torn by hand into identical rectangles and put into transparent boxes, oil-sticks rolled and carefully stacked in the same way, or cut into dices, or shaped as rough-cut balls inside the acrylic cubicles. All these works reflect on the traditional materials of painting, reduced to their most basic materiality, treated sometimes with the greatest sensuality, sometimes with the keen observing eye of someone making a systematic study on the relationship between form and material.
But then there are these contrary works: seemingly quick, easy, demanding a minimum of physical effort and material. – Or with the frantic energy of an instant action, an apparently endless worm of oil paint or silicone meandering on the surface of the work, layer on layer like the serpents and dragon-tails in Nordic and Celtic ornamentation.
Marcia Thompson examines the structure and materiality of paint – and plays with its qualities. I take a look at the painting in my living room: a thin fabric of tulle, more hung than stretched on the stretcher, with big rugged dots of oil paint clutching from the thin and semitransparent textile. The composition is irregular, the dots are literally hanging on the tulle, as if they were on their way sliding or slipping down the surface.
This downward movement creates an interplay between gravity made visible and the almost weightless support. The tensions inside of the work become literal, because of the opposition between the light, transparent and almost immaterial support and the heavy materiality of the paint. Through the canvas, you can discern the shadows shed on the wall, thus enhancing the three-dimensional aspects of the work.
Many of her works relates to white, to whiteness and transparency bordering on milky white. It is the pale whiteness of innocence, of the palm of the dead widow, but, but also of meringues, whipped cream, semen and milk. White is usually the beginning of painting, the primer on the canvas, but also the final stage of adding highlights and volume to the shapes in figurative painting. It is also the colour of paper and parchment, or the canvas itself; the colour of what is taken for granted and of what is hidden by layers of paint. Once painted in bright colours, the pale whiteness of the antique marbles has been the ideal of classicist sculptors and theoreticians, of purists and puritans in art. From this tomb of reductionism, white is brought to the surface by Marcia Thompson, and treated with just as much sensuality as irreverence.
To play a game, you need a set of rules. These rules restrict on the one hand your range of choices, on the other they force you to invent and to combine within this narrow field of possibilities. Even a simple game usually proves to have an almost limitless range of possible combinations. Marcia Thompson’s work evolves around a set of basic restrictions: starting from the white oil paint, she has continuously examined also other materials, like polyester resin, silicon glue or paste, oil sticks, dental plaster, wax – all relating in various degrees to the whiteness, fluidity and final solidity of oil paint. The frame is usually a square, at odd occasions a rectangle and sometimes replaced by a transparent, acrylic box. All the time three- dimensionality is enhanced, either by the bulky, protruding materiality of the paste, paint, resin or glue, or the transparency of the support itself. Often a plastic sheet is suspended over the stretcher, to be covered by flat silicone dots, opaque bodies of material creating a third visible layer with their shadows thrust on the wall behind. In other works, she puts a net or any other grid-like structure over the stretcher, and presses resin or white dental plaster through it from behind, creating a structure of worm-like shapes of stalactites protruding from the “canvas”. In another series, she simply turned the back of the stretcher out, and then filed this quadrangle with paint or silicone in a jumble of intertwined strings. Of course her work could be connected to minimalism. But in this particular case, minimalism becomes a silly word, relating to a whole tradition that is mostly remote from what Marcia Thompson is doing. In minimalism, the relationship to material is in general either negligible or subordinate. Material is used and exposed, but rarely examined as a quality, as a matter in itself. It is much more adequate to view her works in relationship to a strain in the margins of minimalism and conceptualism, spiritual and mystical on the one hand, material and experimental on the other. Agnes Martin, speaking of “an experience that is wordless and silent” (in “The still and the silent in art”, Agnes Martin, Writings/Schriften, Cantz Verlag 1991), has just like Marcia Thompson examined a range of possibilities within the field of whiteness. But her results are radically different, just as were Robert Ryman’s and long before that Kasimir Malevitj’s experiments with white geometrical shapes on white support. All of them have had their attention on the surface itself, emphasising the status of the work as a painting. In Marcia Thompson’s works, surface is just a small part of a complex play with spatiality. A lot closer related are the works of Piero Manzoni from the fifties, relief-like works in white called “Achromes”. But even though the sculptural qualities of these works in kaolin, paper, felt, cotton, wool, rabbit fur, polystyrene, bread, stones etc are undeniable, Manzoni’s prime interest was to expand the concept and definition of painting. The sculptural, not to say the aesthetic, aspects seem to have been more of unavoidable consequences from his conceptual aspirations than goals in themselves. The crucial point in Marcia Thompson’s work is the sculptural qualities of paint, and the spatial relationships between wall, surface and material. Already the act of painting – and over-painting – the surfaces white, as in the works of Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman, is a way of turning the painting into an object, instead of an illusionary or abstract image. But here the paint(silicon, resin, wax, etc) is treated as a sculptural material, and the canvas turned into a high relief, occasionally also extending behind a transparent support. Marcia Thompson’s work make you realise again, that painting can reach far beyond the basic act of making images.
By Pontus Kyander, 2001
Extract from text in the exhibition at Lunds Konsthall, Sweden, featuring 15 artists
SKIN, TOUCH and TRANSPARENCE
You won’t give up. “What does that work of art really mean?” And it is the “really” that disturbs me. As if there always has to be a hidden significance, something invisible behind the work. Something that has to be explained, by somebody in the know. I don’t know what it means, not really. But I see the same thing as you do.
The exhibition sur face is an attempt to view the work of art as such a screen, transparent and non-transparent at the same time, communicating and shielding. But irrespective of whether the surface reveals or hides a message it might be worthwhile to stop for a moment and study it precisely as surface and nothing else.
The sensual aspect of the paintings of Marcia Thompson, another artist from Rio, is just as evident, even if they are not meant to be touched. Her point of departure is the material of painting, but this is then developed to include also a three-dimensional spatiality. Little sculptures is what she calls the meringue-like mounds of white oil-paint which she often returns to in her works. In her paintings the paint and the material always have volume; they might as well be regarded as sculptures. She also often makes a kind of sculpture in transparent acrylic boxes, filled with globes of oil paint, the size of snowballs, and with similar materials also related to painting.
Transparence is another central element in her art. she often uses a plastic basis or a net nailed onto the stretchers. This gives the picture a three-dimensional effect that also includes the little space behind the picture surface. Now and then she exchanges the oil paint for silicon which gives her more possibilities of working with volume and transparence. Her forms can seem to be related to that of Minimalism; the conceptual and sculptural elements in her art may seem to constitute a link with artists such as Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni, but the sensualism and almost humorous playfulness which is also in evidence put her own very personal stamp on her art.
“Marcia Thompson explores the surface of the canvas”
By Carlos Uchôa Fagundes Jr, Folha de São Paulo, 1993
Marcia Thompson opens today her first solo show in São Paulo, at Casa Triângulo Gallery, with 16 paintings
The artist from Rio de Janeiro belongs to a new generation of ex-students of Parque Lage Arts College – birthplace of ‘Geração 80’, but like a few of her colleagues she doesn’t show any affinity with the pictorial exuberance of those years.
She pursues a certain economy of the painting, condensing it with elements of spacial and chromatic synthesis. She resumes and goes beyond some latent point in the passage of the Concretismo to the Neoconcretismo movement in Brazil, or in Oiticica’s language: in between ‘colour-perception’ and ‘colour-experience’.
Aiming to explore the perceptible qualities of the pictorial surface, the works create contrasts, thickening the paint in some points, and covering all the rest with a very thin layer of colour or even leaving the canvas visible. Sometimes the raw canvas is populated with points of paint squeezed from the tube.
This operation creates an optical game, that acts through the formation of points, full of pictorial matter, inside the visual field. The vibration of these points, with different chromatic intensities, builds up a retinal exercise that plays with the differentiated heights of the planes perceived by the gaze. It produces illusory presences and absences, due to its own vibratory nature, blink-blinking, of these points.
The works also lead you to a tactile convocation, a bodily confrontation against the specks or points of paint, as the pulses emitted from the chromatic vibration become real.
They are sent to the experimental component part of the colour and matter, introducing an internal temporality with the expansion of the work in the space. Lateral gazes and meshes of shadows enhance the correspondence between optic and tactile.
These operations became clearer during the course of the last three years, as exhibited in this show. In opposition to some more complex paintings, radical attempts gradually renounce any notion of form or graphic representation in the topographic confrontation of the dots, to reach an undifferentiated field, more regular, in white on white.
The shadowing effects highlight the chromatic mass, that sometimes bristles in points and sometimes spreads itself smoothly on a small canvas almost cubic, an almost-box, protruding from the wall. This monochromatic and sensitive mass resting over the canvas reminds us of the works of the german painter Jurgen Meyer, furthermore for the relevant variability in dimensions: minute works concentrate the actions, creating an inverse proportionality to the size.
1985/89 Arts – Visual Arts School of Parque Lage/RJ, Brazil
1984/87 History – Pontifical Catholic University/RJ, Brazil
– “Purity is a Myth: the monochrome in contemporary art”. Group show with 43 artists: David Batchelor, Hélio Oiticica; Julio Le Parc, Lygia Pape and Yoko Ono amongst others. Curated by Michael Asbury. Nara Roesler Gallery, SP, Brazil
– “Weiter so”. Group show with AES+F, BLUE NOSES GROUP, Olaf Metzel, Via Lewandowsky, Simon Menner, Daniel Caleb Thompson, Marcia Thompson, Saverio Tonoli Adamo, Riccardo Benassi, Haralampi G, Oroschakoff, Ulrich Polster, Steffen Mühle, René Schoemakers and Michael Lee. Curated by Christoph Tannert. Kunstraum Potsdam, Germany
– “b.l.o.c.o.s”. Solo show curated by Gabriela Davies. Janaina Torres Gallery, SP, Brazil
– “The role of image I”. Group show with Marcos Chaves, Carla Guagliardi and Marcia Thompson. Curated by Paula Terra-Neale. One Paved Court Gallery, London, England
– “Inscape”. Group show with Isabelle Borges, Joanna Buchowska, Jessica Buhlmann, Sophia Schama and Marcia Thompson. Opening speech by Christoph Tannert at Kunsthaus Erfurt, Germany
– “(dis)placement”. Group show with Dana Davenport, Ismene King, Luiz d’Orey, Manoela Medeiros, Marcia Thompson and Romain Dumesnil amongst others. Curated by Gabriela Davies. Jacaranda Arts Club, Rio de Janeiro, and Ugly Duck Off Quay, London
– “Spectrum 2 / about paper”. Group show with Antje Blumenstein, Isabelle Borges, Laura Bruce, Peter Freitag, Manfred Hausmann, Bettina Krieg and James Kudo amongst others. Curated by Jens Hausmann and Konstantin Bayer. Galerie Eigenheim Berlin, Germany
– “Chromes”. Solo show with text by Luisa Duarte. Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Desalinho”. Solo show with text by Gabriela Salgado. Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “The Singularity in the Collectiveness”. Solo show with text by Ligia Conongia. Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “TellTale”. Group show with Zadok Ben-David, Peter Ravin Callesen, A K Dolven, Asa Elzen, Avish Khebrezadeh,Meekyoung Shin, Jane Simpson, Ahn Sunghee, Marcia Thompson and Cecilia Westerberg. Curated by Jiyoon Lee. Ewha Art Centre, Seoul, Korea
– “Chance Encounters”. Group show with Maria Moreira, Renata Padovan and Marcia Thompson. Curated by Gabriela Salgado. Gallery 32, London, England
– “Overlap”. Group show with Marcia Thompson and Marcelo Krasilicic. Curated by Pontus Kyander. Aahus Kunstbygning, Denmark
– “Sur Face”. Group show Chris Cunningham, Gary Hume, Yayoi Kusama, Ernesto Neto, Fanni Niemi-Junkola, Blaise Reuterswärd, Pipilotti Rist, Nina Roos, David Svensson, Marcia Thompson, Laureana Toledo, Francesco Vezzoli, Per Wizén and Miyeon Yoon Curated by Pontus Kyander. Lunds Konsthall, Sweden
– “Suspended Instants”. Group show with Seong Chun, Fernanda Gomes, Carla Guagliardi, John Moni, Marcia Thompson, Enrica Bernardelli, José Damasceno, Heide Fasnacht, Ana Linnemann and Brigitte Nahon. Curated by Holly Block and Claudia Calirman. Art in General and Sculpture Centre, NY, USA
– “Dois Anos de Escultura no Paço”. Paço Imperial Gallery, RJ, Brazil
– “Pequenas Mãos”. Curated by Adriano Pedrosa. Paço Imperial Gallery, RJ, Brazil
– Novas Aquisições de Gilberto Chateaubriand. MAM-RJ/BA, Brazil
– “Amanhã,Hoje”. Group show with Albano Afonso, Carlito Contini, Daniel Acosta, Giorgia Volpe, Marcelo Krasilcic, Marcia Thompson, Marco Paulo Rolla, Marcus André, Paulo Whitaker, Rivane Neuenchwander, Roberta Fortunato, Rosana Monnerat, Sandra Cinto, Valdirlei Dias Nunes and Vicente de Mello. Text by Tadeu Chiarelli. Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Situações Transitivas”. Group show with Enrica Bernardelli, José Damasceno, Luiz Carlos Del Castillo, Marcia Thompson and Maurício Ruiz. Curated by Fernando Cocchiarale. Joel Edelstein Gallery, RJ, Brazil
– “Imagem não Virtual”. Group show with Márcia Thompson, Sandra Cinto, Rosana Monnerat, Fábio Lima Freire, Albano Afonso, Rivani Neuenschwander, Marcelo Orsi and Daniel Costa. Curated by Sergio Romagnolo. Casa Triângulo Gallery, SP, Brazil
– “Escultura Carioca”. Group show with André Costa, Barrão, Carla Guagliardi, Carlos Bevilacqua, Eduardo Coimbra, Enrica Bernardelli, Ernesto Neto, Fernanda Gomes, José Damasceno, Lívia Flores, Márcia Thompson, Marcos Chaves, Maurício Ruiz, Raul Mourão, Ricardo Basbaum, Ricardo Becker, Rodrigo Cardoso and Valeska Soares.Curated by Fernando Cocchiarale and Ligia Canongia. Paço Imperial Gallery, RJ, Brazil
– Solo show with text by A. Hirsh at Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– Gilberto Chateaubriand (Brazil)
– Patrícia Phelps de Cisneros (Venezuela)
– Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (England)
– Brazilian Embassy (England)
– Nominated for the PIPA Prize
– The first prize of the Visual Arts Awards
– Unesco Prize in Salão Carioca de Arte