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The Story Behind Artist Robert Melee’s Psychedelic “Marble”

The Story Behind Artist Robert Melee’s Psychedelic “Marble”

In his newest installation, the artist Robert Melee built stadium seating inside the Andrew Kreps gallery in New York and installed marbleized panels over a flat piece of MDF board on the risers. This marbleized technique, a plastic and ridiculous interpretation of classic marble, is one of Melee’s signature looks.

How does he do it? First, he pours an enamel paint called 1 Shot–commonly used for sign painting, motorcycle pinstriping, and Blue Man Group performances–on top of a flat surface and then pours other splotches of paint on top of that, so it’s wet paint on wet paint. Then arranges the different colors into a marble pattern using a needle or other sharp object. The paint takes about 24 hours to dry, at which point it self-levels. The color of the paint when it’s wet is the color of the paint when it’s dry.

The exhibit at Andrew Kreps also includes hanging wall sculptures (at left, above). For these, Melee dips a piece of fabric into plaster, hangs them, then paints over it. The mix has the consistency of heavy cream but hardens fast so he has to work quickly after dipping and molding. Once it hardens, he can then paint over it and drizzle paint on top of that. Because the material transitions from liquid to solid quickly, it ends up looking ultra-realistic, like window curtains frozen in time.

His new works are on view in Triscuit Obfuscation, through October 22 at Andrew Kreps in New York City.

[Images courtesy of Andrew Kreps]JG