Ingrid Calame

sspspss…UM biddle BOP, 1997; enamel paint on trace Mylar; 7.5 x 6 m (24 x 20 ft); Private Collection, Topanga, California

At the entrance to the gallery’s first level of Ingrid Calame‘s solo exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, the pale green enamel of sspspss…UM biddle BOP appear like forceful strokes and splatters that drip down the wall, unfolding across the ground. Though emerging as paintings with energetic and abstract shapes, Calame’s works evolve from a painstaking process that originates from the representation of cracks and stains of the physical environment.

Calame first began tracing blobs in her studio in 1996, before venturing into the streets to trace the shapes, textures and stains on pavements, cultural and industrial sites. Driven by a desire to understand the world through acts of reconstruction, particularly from places that have been overlooked or disregarded, these tracings are then redrawn, layered to form a constellation of interlocking shapes, with enamel filled in within the lines.

Vu-eyp? Vu-eyp? Vueyp? Vu-eyp?, 2002; enamel paint on aluminium; 61 x 61 cm (24 x 24 in); Courtesy the artist

The array of colors across the drawings and paintings appear to compensate for the neglected histories of the sites that inform Calame’s works. From the pastel hues of tracing lines across drawings, to rich shades of green against deep red and purple in Vu-eyp? Vu-eyp? Vueyp? Vu-eyp?, the tenor of the exhibition is upbeat, and appears to convey a sense of discovery from the act of recreation. This quality emanates also from several onomatopoeic titles whose meanings are indecipherable yet express an aural experience of the shapes and paints.

#334 Drawing (Tracings from the L.A. River and ArcelorMittal Steel), 2011; coloured pencil on trace Mylar; 285 x 183 cm (112 x 72 in); Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

#334 and #346 are recent drawings that reveal part of Calame’s intensive working process. Backed by a team while working on sites, Calame obtained tracings from the dried-out concrete riverbed of the L.A. River, hand-stencilled numbers on the factory floors of the ArcelorMittal Steel factor floors and the cracks in an abandoned wading pool at the Perry Street Projects in Buffalo, New York. These tracings each bearing their unique marks, were assembled, retraced using coloured pencil, to form paths of new meanings derived from the residues of time. The second floor of the gallery also features a large wall drawing from the L.A. River, created in-situ.

#346 Drawing (Tracing from the Perry Street Projects Wading Pool, Buffalo, NY), 2011; coloured pencil on trace Mylar; 183 x 285 cm (72 x 112 in); Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects

Calame (b. 1965, Bronx, New York) currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. The exhibition featuring drawings and paintings from 1997 to 2011 runs till 9 October 2011, and forms a part of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

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