Marjorie Minkin by

Photo of Marjorie Minkin © Kim Indresano


Artist Statement

My abstract works evoke a sense of location and proximity to nature like the ravines and rivers in aerial views of landscapes, wave formations in the oceans, or rock strata in cliffs and canyons.  My paintings are a synthesis of references from geography, my immersion in the landscape, the light which has produced my perceptions of nature and, most importantly, what I invent from using liquefied colors at various viscosities. Edges of forms and color meet, overlap or merge, complement or obliterate each other suggesting the motion and evolution of the natural world. Shifts of color and iridescent mediums within the finished paintings create reflections and forms that vary with the viewer’s vantage point. My paintings record my experience of nature without the need to unify representationally the details of nature.

In the mid-nineteen eighties in the desire to further my exploration of translucent color and the effects of light and shadows, I began to make painted works using Lexan, a clear industrial plastic.  I mold the sheets of Lexan by hand using different sources of heat to warm the material enough to bend and stretch it until it develops a shape I am pleased with. Each individual layer and each final Lexan work is unique in shape.

I may use a single layer of the formed Lexan as the final support for the finished painting.  I then paint it on both sides with acrylic resins. Often I combine many layers of the molded Lexan, overlapping them until a multi-dimensional structure is created. Each of these layers is painted individually in response to the previous layer until the piece is complete. The sections for each multi-layered work are joined together with translucent Lexan rivets. Most of these works are wall reliefs. I also make some as table pieces.

My paintings express motion and interactivity through the effects of light and color. They are interactive with the wall they hang on through the reflected shadows; they are interactive with the light source on them that changes the works’ appearances depending on the position and quality of the light; and they are interactive with the viewer’s vantage point. As one’s physical position changes relative to the works, images appear as different aspects of the works become illuminated. The paintings are a metaphor for our interactivity with the world and our changing perceptions relative to our changing perspectives.

Marjorie Minkin

Rulnick Installation View

New York, NY

Of the Lexan works: "these unpredictable objects made of space age plastic are unequivocally paintings, not reliefs or sculptural constructions, despite their refusal to remain planar rectangles and despite their aggressive demands on space - their muscular arching away from the wall, their sunken hollows, and their rippling edges. Minkin's language is purely optical, pictorial, painterly, no matter how much her pictures depend on real, three-dimensional inflections and on the properties of materials usually associated with sculpture."

"Minkin's narrow, vertical pictures can read as fragile, weightless sheets blown against the wall, crumpled and momentarily held in place by a puff of wind. But their confrontational verticality and their human scale and proportions can also invoke classical torsos, fragmented by the passage of time, here updated and regenerated in wholly modern materials and contemporary language. Everyone's associations will be different, of course."

Karen Wilkin, NY
[to read the entire essay, click here.]

North Adams view

Eclipse Mill, North Adams' loft view
CC 1 2008, acrylic on Lexan 32" x 33" x 32"

photo credit: Kelly Lee

I'M TOO CYNICAL TO THINK THAT THE CURRENT WAVE OF ENTHUSIASM for trendy work made by the young and unformed is going to subside anytime soon, but it's worth noting that the fall-winter season in New York was distinguished by a remarkable number of serious, ambitious painting shows by artists who've been around long enough not only to have distinguished histories, but also to know what they're doing. There was no lack of more predictable exhibitions, but the amount of thoughtful, mature painting on view was positively heartening-not, I hasten to add, only because it was painting, not only because it was made by adults, but also because it seemed to indicate renewed confidence on the part of artists and dealers in the ability of works of art to communicate wordlessly, through the specificity of their materials and the way those materials are manipulated. It's always reassuring to be confronted by hard evidence that painting isn't dead, despite the value placed on "alternative media" and "contemporary materials." I should point out, however, that one of the most provocative exhibitions of the past season was a multi-media effort that included both sculpture and two dimensional work, by a young Indian artist. (More about that later.) Marjorie Minkin, Ronnie Landfreld, Johnnie Winona Ross, and Jill Moser's exhibitions at Jason Rulnick, Heidi Cho, Stephen Haller, and Lennon, Weinberg galleries, respectively, provided compelling proof that abstract painting is still a flourishing genre.

For some years, Minkin, who started as a "traditional" abstract painter, has worked on transparent Lexan, warping the thick sheets of plastic, and rippling their edges, to create a kind of three-dimensional drawing. She paints, selectively, on both sides of the molded sheet, accenting and/or canceling bulges and bends with sweeps of color that seem suspended in the air. Since the panels project from the wall, the color strokes cast luminous shadows, while more delicate tonal notes are struck by the way light is deflected by the irregular surface and by bubbles and imperfections created by Minkin's manipulations. The panels occupy an interesting zone between painting and sculpture, equally dependent for their impact on purely optical, disembodied effects, on "seeing-through," and on real articulation of form. Oddly, for all their abstractness, some of the best also evoke classical torsos in their scale, frontality, and voluptuousness; In her recent show, Minkin showed paintings, wall-mounted panels, and - what was newest - a couple of small freestanding constructions, one transparent and aggressively worked, the other, essentially a painted panel in the round. The paintings seemed slightly familiar in their exploitation of the different surfaces yielded by modern acrylic paint technology; I preferred the wall-mounted panels, with their fluid, hovering touches of color and subtle shadows. I was most interested in the painted freestanding piece, which offered provocative possibilities for Minkin's ongoing exploration of how color may be detached from surface and of surfaces that are at once transparent and physical.

"At the Galleries"
The Hudson Review,Vol. LXI, No. 1. Spring, 2008.

"Since the mid-eighties, Minkin has worked simultaneously on the Lexan wall pieces and the acrylic canvases. In many ways they can be seen as two different approaches, although some of the process and certainly much of the artistic vision overlaps. In both, transparency and the rendering of light is a primary goal but it was only until recent developments in the technology of acrylic mediums and through experimentation that Minkin could achieve the translucency she was seeking in her canvas work. She has expanded her practice of suspending colored pigments in clear resins on the plastic to her paintings on canvas to accomplish this surface transparency."

"In the Lexan work and the acrylic paintings, Minkin's interpretation of the world is both intuitive and rational. Her process relies upon skilled technical capabilities and informed decision-making, yet incorporates the possibility of chance. These techniques take full advantage of the properties inherent in the materials--such as the malleability of the heated plastic and the flow of the poured acrylic mediums--to evoke the forces of nature, giving viewers the opportunity for their own intuitive response."

Sue Scott, NY

C.W. White Gallery installation view

C. W. White Gallery, Portland, Maine


"Marjorie Minkin explores the effects possible through the interaction of light with her materials. Her acrylic paintings, on either canvas or heat formed Lexan [clear polycarbonate plastic], use the vocabulary of abstraction to express movement and natural forms. The paintings may allude to the human figure and landscape, yet rarely so overtly as to become truly "representational works." Our perception of form and color...reflected and refracted, applied or implied...shifts as we move or the light changes."

Christopher White, Maine

Prague installation view of Eclipse

Installation view of "Eclipse" at The National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic


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