Tranquility and tension coexist

Almost two months after the catastrophic tsunami hit the lands that lie on the Indian Ocean, artist Maria Marshall visited the coast of Chennai, in India, one of the areas devastated by the tsunami, to film the 12-minute-long «58 Days Later.» A well-known film artist (she was the focus artist at the Sundance Film Festival held this past January), London-based Marshall filmed the waves of the sea for 10 seconds every 10 minutes and over 12 consecutive hours. The silent film, which is being screened at the show «58 Days Later,» the artist’s solo exhibition at the Potnia Thiron gallery, depicts none of the catastrophe that hit the area but is a calming, almost lulling, depiction of the ocean’s movement. Made in memory of the people who were killed, it seems to be a work about the vastness of nature and protecting nature. Yet an underlying tension is to be found throughout the exhibition. Tranquility and a lurking danger coexist. Just the mere fact that Marshall had been inspired by such a violent incident suggests the artist’s interest in exploring the concept of threat; in this case, the threats posed by nature. This duality of tranquility and tension can also be found in Marshall’s paintings, the largest and most visually pleasing part of the exhibition. The paintings are large, soothing and almost zen-like seascapes rendered in a fresh turquoise color. On closer look, the dripping of paint and the quick brushstrokes suggest a certain disquiet. Small details, such as the recurring image of a spider, enhance this sense of menace. Interestingly, Marshall, who prefers film over any other medium, had never before delved into painting. The outcome is noteworthy. In spite of their ethereal, almost translucent, effect, her paintings have also this physical, real quality. They almost look like seascapes that draw in the viewer. Marshall thinks of the paintings as the «trailer» to her film. The third part to the body of work shown in «58 Days Later» are what Marshall labels the «ads» for the film. They are posters of zombie films that Marshall has painted over or pasted with glitter. They are hard images that evoke the aesthetics of subculture. The works offer a strange but, for that very reason, interesting visual contrast with the rest of the works. Also shown are a series of watercolors of the artist’s self-portraits. Hung in a room that has been painted a vivid yellow to evoke urgency, the watercolors are like visual notes. They suggest the autobiographical elements and personal involvement that is a strong aspect to the artist’s work. One of the most engaging exhibitions currently on view in Athens, Marshall’s works are about pain and beauty, about experiencing and becoming aware of life’s contrasting but complementary aspects. Potnia Thiron, 7 Zaimi, Exarchia, tel 210.330.7380, to June 11.