Leo Marmol shows his creative vision in paintings

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As starting points for such works, Marmol draws on his own observations, memories and impressions, but also gives credit to Steven Moore’s lush and sensitive desert photographs that he hung in his studio. These photos capture the ever-changing qualities of desert light and, like Marmol’s paintings, remind us that nighttime in the desert can be just as uplifting to the senses as daytime experiences.

The tradition of desert landscape painting in the Coachella Valley is long and rich, dating back to the Tonalist and Impressionist painters of the early 20th century and including such historically significant names as Lockwood De Forest, James Swinnerton and Agnes Pelton. Marmol’s work occupies a special place in this story, embodying artistic values ​​unknown before the 1950s, notably the mixture of observation and pictorial invention. Famous post-World War II artists such as Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell and Richard Diebenkorn all practiced their own version of this alchemical mixture in their landscape paintings, and it is a relatively common technique among contemporary painters wishing to reinvent landscape traditions. , but Marmol’s work in this vein has a look all its own. This is partly due to his unconventional mix of oil paints and cold wax, which gives the painting itself more body, allowing for thick impastos and rich surfaces that register the physical action of the arm and of the wrist. And it is also due to its deep immersion in sensory stimulation found in areas considered by many to be arid and barren, but which are actually fully alive with ever-changing visual, physical and even spiritual vitality. Marmol wants to lead us to an increased awareness of these experiences. He will surely have many followers.

Steven Nash is the former executive director of the Palm Springs Art Museum and vice chairman of the board of Desert X.

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