With torqued, tilted, stacked and gridded elements, Marie Thibeault invests charged abstract paintings with a sense of entangled time. She does it with crisply defined wedges painted in saturated colors, large geometric and free-form shapes, and teetering hand-built webs that make for dense layers of space. These constructions reference urban development, airport terminals, maps, architectural scaffolding and system collapse. In the past, Thibeault has worked from photos of disasters — Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey andbefore that, Katrina in New Orleans, the subject of a 2009 show in this space. Now, her sources are more universal: e-waste, global warming, migrating ocean waste, shipyard environments and other places where worlds collide. The seven paintings on view in her current show, engineering, selected paintings, take us to the brink via upended tectonic plates through which we can see the tenuous remains of houses and buildings, contingent forms that barely keep chaos at bay.
The upper half of Night Tree, for example, is composed of blocks of blues and fingers of black and gray over which an orange cubist frame is drawn. Suggesting architectural plans or, given the title, a hastily constructed tree fort, the frame domesticates the painting, but only just enough. Otherwise, the ominous black-winged shape hovering above a patchwork field of grays at the painting’s bottom edge is left to unsettle the nerves. Like a plane orbiting in space, it implicates paranoia and the reality of surveillance and, more generally, our reliance on systems subject to failure. This interest in entropy has long aligned her with Julie Mehretu, an artist who uses layering to visualize complex networks. It also pulls her into the orbits of Frank Owen, Val Britton,