I had the chance to interview Dale Marshall aka Vermin a couple of weeks ago. Through that interview I learned a lot about him and his art. We also discussed his residency and show at SOZE entitled, “Best Kept Secret”, which opened yesterday. My friend went to the opening and sent me some pictures to do a sort of review. With a very limited source of information I was forced to go back to my interview with Dale and try to decipher the pixilated images using our past conversations as a reference in understanding the show.

The installation in the middle of the gallery was the first to catch my eyes. It’s a bed that has anti-depressant drugs all over the sheet and a couple of black balloons tied to it as well. Knowing that the artist has dealt with mental instability led me to believe that this is probably homage to that chaotic time of his life. A time riddled with psychotic medications in dingy asylum halls. Or perhaps the piece is a commentary on our society’s chemical dependence brought about by our escapist tendencies.

According to Dale, “Best Kept Secret” mainly focuses on his experiences living in LA. His oil on canvas paintings are implicative of the colors and textures that he had encountered during that stay. The surging red and yellow against a black background reminded me of night time traffic. The texture brought about by his impasto technique mimics architectural constructs and cityscapes.

The series “To Stitch Some Old Wounds” is a break from the intense palette of dale’s works on canvas. These series, as the title suggest, are very honest and sentimental. The graffiti roots of Dale are very much visible in this series. That piece of the artist’s history as the street artist known as Vermin manifests itself in these works on paper. The flowing lines are reminiscent of graffiti letters that have undergone deconstruction. Here, one can clearly see the artist’s very personal approach in art making; he takes pieces of his past and uses it as a jumping off point in his art-making. Fueled by past struggles, he turns his melancholic past into art… violence into beauty.

To sum it up “Best Kept Secret” is very personal. It is the sorrows and pains of Vermin intertwined with the survival and evolution of Dale Marshall. It’s as if the artist is mending his past, taking the negative parts and turning them into works of art; a cathartic experience for the artist… a thrilling visual experience for the audience.

Read his full interview here — THIS IS DALE ‘VN’ MARSHALL AKA VERMIN.

by Crist Espiritu

“Best Kept Secret”
SOZE Gallery
652 Mateo Street, #107
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Show runs until June 27, 2012
For more info, email sozegallery@gmail.com

Follow Crist Espiritu on Twitter @crist_espiritu

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