Anita Margrill is a Bay Area artist/architect who creates paintings, constructions and models in order to demystify architectural language. Drawing upon historical archetypes, Margrill takes basic architectural forms such as flying buttresses and post and lintel structures and breaks them down to reveal their metaphorical--and by extension--political intent.
Using an installation format and employing a variety of cut-away arches, domes and screens, Margrill has reorganized the gallery space into a form of self-reflexive, Brechtian theater. Buildings are reduced to mere scenery, solid brick and stone to painted wooden frameworks. Margrill underlines this artifice/reality juxtaposition by alluding in her paintings to the illusionist, theatrical space of De Chirico (a debunking of Renaissance perspective) and, more specifically, the Realpolitik that lies behind the seemingly benign and reassuring surface of establishment structures.
Via such architectural reasoning, buildings have an obvious, concealed political function, where elaborate facades mask complex networks of often contradictory forms within. Following the tenets of Mies van der Rohe’s International Style, it is these forms that Margrill brings to the surface. She is clearly fascinated with process, the building site rather than the finished structure. Her works are populated with scaffolding, ladders, unfaced I-beams and molds for concrete pillars, thoroughly stripping bare all architectural signification and, one presumes, its connotative power.
The exhibit, which blurs the boundaries between painting, sculpture and theater, thus constitutes a provocative dissection of a seemingly self-contained functional discipline. At the same time however, it succeeds as pure artifice itself, creating structures from non-structures, turning blueprints into artworks, bit parts into leading roles. (Stella Polaris Gallery, 445 S. Beverly Drive, to March 1.)