Works & Biography
About Lorna Marsh
Lorna Marsh was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1949. It was there that she began her formal training, which included private studio instruction with professors from the London Royal Academy of Art. Marsh later concluded her education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Initially, Marsh was exposed to traditional master painters of the English landscape, Constable and Gainesborough. However, the artists who had the most profound impact on Marsh's work, were the modern masters Motherwell, Twombly and Tàpies. While Marsh's artistic vision may be grounded in her classical training and her esteem for twentieth century visionaries, she has evolved a unique style that transcends standard interpretative mechanisms.
Marsh is a figurative expressionist who blends symbolism, surrealism, and expressionism to create fresh images, which reflect upon the human condition. Her images are timeless. That is, they defy the viewer's cultural, philosophical and political constructs and command a new language for interpretation. The viewer must relinquish his or her conditioning in order to decipher Marsh's vision. By demanding that the viewer approach her art unfettered by social mores, Marsh appeals to the universal language of human beings.
Marsh achieves her vision not only through the images she creates but also through her mastery of media. It is because of her classical discipline that Marsh possesses the prowess to manipulate her materials. Her hands wield the paints, which shape her images and are themselves the tools for application; nothing lies between Marsh and her surface. Consequently, Marsh's surfaces are layered - infused with abstruse images, which invite the viewer to form both emotional and intellectual connections with her work.
Currently residing in the United States, Marsh has exhibited in numerous international one-person and group shows.
Marsh has had important solo shows at the Florida Museum of Hispanic and Latin American Art, Miami, Florida, the Jacobo Borges Museum, Caracas, Venezuela, the Real Monastery of Santa Maria de la Valldigna Fundació Jaume II el Just, Valencia, Spain, the João Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, the Aldo Castillo Gallery, Chicago, Illinois, the Shanghai Art Fair, Shanghai, China, among many others. As of 2000, she is permanently represented by the Aldo Castillo Gallery.
CREATURES OF THE EARTH: The Art of Lorna Marsh by Robert P. Metzger, Ph.D.
The epic, ambitious paintings of Lorna Marsh deal with the continuous human condition which has relentlessly resisted discernible modification throughout the past millennium. Her thought-provoking meditations on how little the heart of man has changed after so many centuries is evident in her numerous series of paintings, including: "Man is the Trap Against Nature" (steel-jaw lion traps), "Tethered Flight" (kingfisher, sparrow hawk, and kestrel bound by string), "Cage" (muzzled animals), "Shrouded Visions" (draped people, animals, and landscapes)," Africa Within" (scavengers: jackal, hyena, dog, baboon, lion, and vulture), "Discarded Landscapes" (ecological warnings), "I am the Choicemaker" (Eve in the Garden of Eden), and "Firebirds" (conflagration of birds). Her unrestrained improvisation is apparent in her understated approach of eschewing the paint brush and applying her materials directly with her hands and arms. Using acrylic paint, oil stick, graphite, and wood stains and varnishes, she approaches each canvas with a masterful technique and ecstatic passion.
Marsh's astonishing series of paintings are cautionary tales, reminding the viewer of the pitfalls of an Orwellian group-think. Her work advocates strongly for the logic and necessity of courageous individuality. Throughout our long history, each emerging generation has struggled to affirm life's full possibilities and to regain anew their common humanity. Marsh is keenly aware of mankind's shared longing for belonging and better ways of living. Life's very precariousness underscores her intense connection for the "Everyman" and with all of God's creatures great and small.
Reforging the unity between art and meaningful existence, Marsh chronicles our mutual dreams and nightmares which expose our frailties and vulnerability. Her deep distress over human destruction of the earth and the subjugation of nature for self-centered greed place her in the vanguard responsible, principled artists worldwide. However, unlike the over-kill of much "in-your-face" overtly political art, Marsh's more subtle approach speaks to both the heart and the brain. Her quiet indignation is especially effective in exposing the evils of the catastrophic atrocities of war. The dark side of life is evident in many of her works, yet even the most brutal of these pictures contain a flicker of what Wordsworth referred to as "the still sad music of humanity." The universality of her voice is confirmed in these profound, brooding paintings and her background on two Continents has informed and enriched her ideas.
Marsh's figurative expressionist style, with its roots in German Expression and European Surrealism, is also informed by the work of Robert Motherwell, Cy Twombly, and Antonio Tapies. In much of her work, such as in the Eve series, the human face appears partially or even fully expunged, heightening the sense of universality through the body. The female nudes exhibit interior anguish and turmoil and display the enormous toll of their difficult struggle. Each figure is distorted for peak emotional impact and dramatic effect. The extraordinary animal paintings, largely drawn from her native South Africa, are imbued with a hallucinatory intensity and ferocity. She convincingly conveys the tension of movement and counter movement of African herd animals such as wild dogs, hyenas, and baboons who forage for food and survive by traveling in packs. These animals, surrounded with abstract swirls, becoming a part of the painterly background of barren landscape. Marsh is especially attracted to these animals because of their endurance from ancient times, their freedom, and their ability to withstand severely discordant conditions. These creatures are the antithesis of commercially
cute Disney animals. It is their very rough-hewn appearance that gives them a distinct dignity and nobility. Man's relationship with animals is a persistent and potent theme in Marsh's work, personifying the words from the Book of Job; "Ask the beasts and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee." Marsh's images are a reminder of the beast within each individual and the divine spark in all living things.
ABOUT ROBERT METZGER
Robert Metzger, Director Emeritus of the Reading Public Museum, served in that capacity at the Aldrich Museum, theAllentown Art Museum, and the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and worked as Curator for W. Hawkins Ferry in Grosse Pointe, Michigan and for Lydia Winston Malbin and Richard Brown Baker in New York. He taught Art History at the University of Detroit and Bucknell University and studied at Columbia University, University of California, Los Angeles, Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois, Wayne State University, Detroit, Museum Management Institute, Berkeley, California, and the Victorian Society Summer School, London, U.K. He is the author of St. Petersburg Realism (U.S.S.R.), Ronald Reagan: American Icon, Abstract Expressionism Lives!, Edward Hopper: Early Impressions, Franz Kline: the Jazz Murals, and British Romantic Art and monographs on Arakawa, Nakian, Stamos, Boghosian, Tobin, Stubbs, Stuempfig, Murray, Namingha, Meneeley, Press, Coyer, and Strauser. In addition, he was the subject of the George Furth-Stephen
Sondheim Broadway musical Company.