Flipping through: ‘Marcelyn McNeil: Works’

An insightful monograph dives into the Dallas artist’s recent paintings


“Marcelyn McNeil: Works” (Radius Books, 2022) offers readers a clear view of the abstracted work by Dallas-based painter McNeil. The monograph focuses on her recent work from the last 10 years, highlighting the artist’s shift “in 2017 to move away from painting anthropomorphic object-like forms within a field” to “more subtle, possibly meditative” works.

Hesse McGraw, executive director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, opens the publication with an essay titled “One More Thing Might Be Too Much.” He reflects on her approach and art, stating that the “works were in and of themselves, rather than representing something else.” He goes on to expand upon that idea by sharing that he found he “could experience McNeil’s work as a kind of unmediated world of [his] own making.”

Marcelyn McNeill
Marelyn McNeil’s “Slow Eddy” exhibition at Conduit Gallery (2019). Photo by Kevin Todora. Courtesy of Conduit Gallery, Dallas
Marcelyn McNeil,
Marcelyn McNeil, “Wax Wane,” 2021, oil on canvas, 66 x 72 inches. Photo by Evan Shelton. Courtesy of Conduit Gallery, Dallas

McNeil’s vivid artwork fills the center section of the monograph, featuring a blend of individual paintings, detail shots, and installation photos. The mix of images presents a multi-layered overview of McNeil’s artistic practice, and the selections allow for pieces to be seen in conversation with one another as well as showcase the rich surface of her paintings.

In an interview with Alison Hearst, curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, McNeil reveals a lot about her process, sharing that she starts each painting with oil pours or stains. She explains how she prefers to apply subsequent layers of paint with a trowel instead of a brush because “it picks up the underlying information more easily.”

In addition to technical aspects of her artmaking, McNeil discusses personal thoughts surrounding her work including her renewed approach to painting.

“I started rethinking and questioning painting entirely,” McNeil said. “I had been making somewhat animated forms that were at times awkward, bulbous, bodily. It just really hit me, that if I were to continue painting, I felt an intense need to quiet the work down, make it more sensual, meditative, and open to chance.”

This rewarding publication nicely demystifies McNeil’s work and offers a deeper understanding of this Texas artist’s creations.

‘Marcelyn McNeil: Works’
Text by Hesse McGraw
Interview by Alison Hearst
208 pages, Radius Books, 2022

Caleb Bell
Caleb Bellhttp://www.cbellprojects.com/
Caleb Bell is a writer and the curator at the Tyler Museum of Art. Bell’s writing and curatorial practices work to expand the conversation around creativity and connect audiences with art.

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