by Jennie Hirsh
Locks Gallery is pleased to present Forest Park, the first solo exhibition of Philadelphia artist Virgil Marti at the gallery. Marti will bring together new works with other recontextualized projects, highlighting his own investigation of the sublime and romanticism throughout history. Marti’s art merges his passion for Americana with his distinctive explorations of the world of domestic interiors.
The exhibition will be on view September 5th through October 18th with a reception for the artist on Friday, September 5th, from 5:30–7:30pm. The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication surveying Marti’s works with an essay by critic Hilarie M. Sheets.
Works on display will include new “looking glasses”, sculptural furniture pieces, and textile prints—each pointing to specific historical touchstones that are the rich foundation of Marti’s imaginative renderings. For example, the looking glasses take their formal cues from the late 18th century Chippendale-style mirrors; an homage to the Philadelphia craftsmen who produced a distinctly more elaborate Rococo style. Using his own period floorboards from his studio as a model for casting their surfaces, Marti silvers and now colors them with unique palettes. Their colors reference the gamut of Virgil’s explorations —from Hudson River School paintings, his own travel photographs, and iconic 1960s posters.
In her essay, Sheets states, “Marti is fascinated by the trickle down of fine art to popular decoration, by how some variation of a Jackson Pollock painting ends up in a bowling alley. Mining the gap between high and low, his objects of allure consistently subvert aesthetic hierarchies and offer something other, but never lesser, in return.”
The show’s title evokes Marti’s early encounters with hippie culture in the St. Louis, MO park of the same name, while his works create a novel and extraordinary place within the gallery. In the reimagined Forest Park, the artist’s concrete benches overlook the majestic vistas of “Scenic America.” Through his innovative methods in the studio and unique approaches to history, Marti continues to transform the realm of material culture into imaginative sites for contemplation and possibility.
Marti has previously exhibited work at Locks Gallery in the group exhibitions The Way Things Are (2012) and Fête (2006).