George Billis Gallery is pleased to present Suspended States, the gallery’s third solo show of new work by the Santa Monica-based assemblage, sculpture, and installation artist Maddy LeMel, as part of a series of exhibitions of contemporary Southern California artists influenced by the artists and designers being highlighted in the Pacific Standard Time events. LeMel has been called a “scavenger poet,” and is known for mixed-media constructions incorporating found objects that are reclaimed and given second lives in pieces created with wire, screen, thread, paper, metal fragments, and a deft articulation of light and space. The opening reception for the artist is Saturday, November 19, 5-8PM, and the show runs through January 2 (Dec. 24-Jan. 2 by appointment only, call the gallery at 310-838-3685). High-res images are available upon request.
LeMel’s new works are spare yet animated wire and metal cages containing vintage tools, which exist as almost anthropomorphized characters contemplating the nature of entrapment. These characters also seem to be sizing up exit strategies presented by openings in each cage that allow for escape. Connected by winding ladders, the works form a cohesive installation, suggesting that situations and relationships between individuals can cause patterns of restraint to ripple into society as well—along with opportunities to transcend such limitations. In a catalogue essay for LeMel, art critic Constance Mallinson wrote, “This uncomfortable limbo signifies the stage between possibilities, prompting us to ask, as LeMel has, what is worth saving or discarding, and ultimately how we can be transformed.”
Additionally, a series of smaller, wall-mounted pieces—which LeMel calls “shadow images”—presents visions of what things might look like outside the cage, ephemeral memories of past confinement. Throughout the works, LeMel balances the notion of actual physical confinement with the self-inflicted prisons of emotion, convention, and habit that rein us in. “Stepping outside our familiar worlds could cause us to plummet to the ground,” she says, “or perhaps we would learn to fly.”
Born in Chicago, Maddy LeMel studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 1962 and receiving her BFA from the University of Southern California. LeMel’s work is has been shown in museums and galleries in the U.S. and Europe. She has had recent solo exhibitions at George Billis Gallery in New York City, Barnsdall Art Park and George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Louis Stern Gallery in West Hollywood. Of the latter, Holly Myers wrote in the L.A. Times, “We see keys, photographs, fragments of text, and bits of metal and wire preserved in cocoons of paper and plastic while threads dangle seductively, waiting to be unraveled.” LeMel’s work has also been featured in art fairs including the Los Angeles Art Show and Art Now Fair in Miami Beach, and numerous group shows.
Installation artist and sculptor, Maddy Le Mel, is a sensitive scavenger and material poet. Reclaiming wires, steel bars and rusty found objects, Ms. Le Mel combines these objects with translucent handmade paper, threads and netting to create delicate, yet steadfast, objects. Of her work, the artist states, “As these remnants are unified in unexpected ways…they remind us that even the most familiar things are ephemeral, inevitably changing with time.” Ms. Le Mel seeks out and ignites the ‘pulse’ in her materials, indeed materializing a sculptural life-force.
Maddy Le Mel received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections and has exhibited throughout California.
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