First Independent Gallery
Bergamot Station D2
2525 Michigan Avenue Santa Monica, CA  90404
tel: 310.829.0345   email:
Wed-Sat, 11-5 & by appointment

November 8 - December 2, 2017


Marlene Capell has long used the format of a portal as the foundation of her abstract paintings.  The portal imagery in her work references the ancient structures she acknowledges as the inspiration for her compositions.  Much like archeological sites, her canvases reflect the passage and process of time as the surfaces are built up with paint, layer over layer, obliterating and reworking, concealing the past but leaving hints of what came before.  Ultimately, it is this evidence of the painting process that becomes the focal point of her paintings, resulting in the luscious surfaces and the vibrant yet earthy color for which she is known.  In this exhibition Capell brings together recent and earlier work that focuses on a square format which has always been especially compatible with her portal compositions.

“These paintings start with the image of a portal which is the dominant motif.  They often evolve over a period of several years.  I may paint over old paintings leaving some parts exposed because it goes with my attitude towards life; not to obscure what has gone before. This painting process is one of covering, scraping and redrawing in order to challenge the existing state of the work as multiple layers are built up and then partially obscured.  This leaves evidence of what went before in the process of creating a rich and textured surface. Comparing my art to music, I visualize interweaving and overlaying abstract elements in the composition of my work. 

“I visualize these paintings as a reflection of life as well as a connection to our earliest beginnings and to other cultures.  I begin by building abstract architectonic forms, which evolve from my fascination with Stonehenge and the Lion Gate of Mycenae.  I use this specific kind of formal structure to help establish order out of the vast multitude of available choices.  I derive a sense of stability from these post and lintel structures, which grounds me so that I can then speculate and explore non-objectively.  From that, I hope for something unexpected to emerge for both the viewer and myself.

“Just as each civilization is built upon the structures of previous ones, I believe our lives are a process of building one experience upon another.  As many of these paintings are painted over previous ones, revealing the history of themselves, they become a metaphor for growth and evolution.  For me this is also the exchange between the careful rational mind and the desire for spontaneity and a measure of surprise.  The challenge becomes just how much freedom I can allow myself."


Portal I, 2013-14, oil on canvas, 24 x 24"
Portal I, 2013-14, oil on canvas, 24 x 24"

Portal III, 2013, oil on canvas, 40 x 40"
Portal III, 2013, oil on canvas, 40 x 40"

Portal II, 2002-11, oil on canvas, 20 x 20"
Portal II,
2002-11, oil on canvas, 20 x 20"

Portal XIX, 1997/2002/2007, oil on canvas, 27 x 27"
Portal XIX,
1997/2002/2007, oil on canvas, 27 x 27"








First Independent Gallery • Bergamot Station D2  • 2525 Michigan Avenue • Santa Monica, CA  90404
2017© FIG