VICTORY OVER GRAVITY: THE NEO-SUPREMATISM OF MELA M By Peter Frank, 2022

For all the increasingly broad interest, scholarly and general, in the eastern European avant-gardes, the radical art of late Czarist and early Soviet Russia (and surrounding states) remains a challenging web of internal contradictions and external improbabilities. The achievements and lessons of such figures as Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandra Exter, Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velemir Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchenykh, David Burliuk, and others who anticipated and/or led the revolution with their “slap in the face of public taste” come down to us now as impossibly inventive, irrepressibly imaginative, and illustriously illogical. Spirituality, radical idealism, poetic irreality, the conflation of disparate artistic practices into off-kilter Gesamtkunstwerk, and above all the normalization, even rationalization of the irrational – the harnessing of impulsive energy to the overarching task of perception change, in audience as in artist – characterize a time and place in which the old order was collapsing and rival minds were struggling to define and impose a new order, or at least their idea(s) of one.

In other words, artists felt called upon to rebuild the world, in any way possible, and to redefine life they had to redefine art. They had to break the bounds of the picture, of the performance, of speech. They had to project their present madness(es) into, indeed towards, the future. The blazing ideas about painting, poetry, and the stage that were coming out of western Europe kindled a wildfire in eastern Europe, and as the former exploded, the latter imploded.

How does a contemporary artist look back on such developments of a century past? Indeed, how does an audience? Recent political events may color our understanding, but the reconsideration, scholarly and otherwise, of Russian avant-garde practice predates these – notably when essayed by an artist born and educated in the Soviet Union. The work of Mela M has reflected her appreciation for and curiosity about her avant-garde forebears since even before she came to America, while in art school in Minsk. Mela’s dedication to the formal language of constructivism – cubism-derived, futurism-charged – employed by Tatlin, Popova, et. al., has been unwavering, as has her embrace of the phantasmagorical rhetoric employed by Russian avant-garde poets and painters alike. For Mela, as for Mayakovsky, the future consists of new words no less than of new worlds, new phrases as well as new phases.

For all her verbal flights of fancy hurtling into the cosmos, Mela’s prior commitment is to the positing of a new visual order, one rooted in the art of her avant-garde ancestors but urgently calling to present-day humanity. Her elaborate, even feverish descriptions of structures and cities growing almost organically from their essences are more, much more, than breathless hyperbole; they, like the objects and models they illumine, are signals to would-be dreamers and architects that the future needs them – that the future is them.

This call to both the Dionysian and Apollonian impulses of cultural expression, awakening them into a complementary partnership, can be witnessed with redoubled force in the things Mela fabricates physically – sometimes seeming, however elusively, to illustrate the coherent incoherencies running through her writing, sometimes seeming to inspire them. This resolution, or at least betrothal, of contradictory, even inimical entities, a dialectical synthesis of what in the days of high cubo-futurist modernism were experiential as well as theoretical opposites, results not in a neutralizing of radical and reactionary – or, more accurately, idealistic and pragmatic — forces, but in a recognition of their shared dynamic. The ideas in ideals, Mela demonstrates, can be revealed to practitioners of the practical, while models for addressing the overarching concerns of our time can be designed on the basis of examples set a century ago.

As a neo-modernist Mela sets standards – for herself and her world – that, in celebrating and at the same time harnessing vision, exemplify attitude rather than impose structure. Clearly, structure is at the aesthetic heart of her work. But it is a perceptual tool in this context, not just an aesthetic goal. The futurists of a century past sought to build, not just propose, the future; but the skills and technologies they needed to realize their conjurations, from new architectural devices and materials to the new literary genre of science fiction, were only then beginning to be refined. The modernist imagination could point vaguely at the digital universe to come but could not have fathomed it. Deep into the first digital age – or perhaps at the lip of the second – our imaginations, not to mention expertise, struggle to stay au courant; but an artist like Mela masters the spirit of the age even as she refuses to exploit its technologies. Rather than drown in it, she mirrors the visual language of pixels and bytes without surrendering to its superficial effects or the lure of its mechanisms. In developing both her concepts and her designs, Mela addresses the digital age from the outside in, relying on her own skills rather than the computer’s to project a digital – indeed, post-digital – future.

Many contemporary artists seek to bridge this gap between the virtual and the actual, and most seek in the process to articulate the fact they are doing so. Such cybernetic self-consciousness can speak to the audience’s own awareness of its digitized existence, but it can also get in the way of proposing substantive, era-appropriate artistic discourse and production. Mela resists this urge to admire the technology, avoiding such distraction by tempering it with her native sensitivity to (not to mention faith in) the analog delirium of her cubo-futurist/constructivist predecessors – a delirium that for the most part did not lose itself in technological minutiae but surrendered instead to the real-life possibilities manifesting out of the singular (artistic) and collective (social) imagination.

We can thus comprehend Mela’s climactic Omegatropolis, for instance, as futurist space in digital time, an endless column à la Brancusi whose components replicate indefinitely so as to accommodate the evolving needs of our species. It is a fantasy, of course, or more accurately a metaphor for the self-perpetuating organism that humankind is on the brink of betraying. But if it speaks in the grand language of futurist hope, it speaks to a civilization that at this point can survive only through fantasy, and through the improbable achievements of those who, as ever, regard fantasy and metaphor as the seedbed of actual innovation.

The parts-to-whole relationship of form defining Mela’s universe, an aesthetic of segments, has driven her artistic output for at least three decades at this writing, and has come to dominate concept, form, and facture alike. In the last several years alone, she has produced a cascade, a veritable army, of objects, part painting, part sculpture, that are assembled out of so many discrete, vividly hued elements (normally wood, the larger works hand-sawed and -refined, the smaller fashioned with hand tools). This dogged and elaborate hybridization of two and three dimensions, based on the interaction of color and volume, emerged as such in 2018 but followed nearly 20 years of similar investigation which in retrospect she conceptualized as what she has named “PaSColor.” Typically bridging the material and the metaphysical, but also the pictorial and the volumetric, Mela defines “PaSColor” as “an integration — more accurately a bona fide transmutation —of painting and sculpture through shape and color.” The PaSColor principle thus seeks — or perhaps presumes – an indissoluble intermedium between painting and sculpture, and by extension architecture. Not incidentally, with PaSColor – the notion and practice of solid form modified by color –Mela widens the scope of her modernist antecedent, evoking not only Russian Cubo-Futurism and Suprematism but Western European proponents of a color-dynamized space for living, such as proposed by de Stijl and the Bauhaus

The individual formations Mela realizes both from her PaSColor approach and from more broadly architectural – and narrative – projects such as the expansive, dazzling light-and-structure installation The Rising Wall (a permanent sculptural installation on the rooftop of the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster CA) are at least as diverse as the segments comprising them. Their archly intellectual wit would seem to belie their depth, but a sense of urgency animates even the least of them, as does a sense of magic. They entertain the eyes but also inflame them; they appeal to the body, but they beckon us towards at least the lineaments of a changed perception. They invite speculation on unseen dimensions. They propose an unbroken continuity between macro- and microcosm. They are the most intimate of monuments, and the most docile of machines, but what Mela means for them to be are talismans and portals leading towards…

… leading not towards utopia, whether Soviet workers’ paradise, capitalist jackpot, or dream of a world without war or hunger, but towards the reinterpretation, the reconsideration of today’s actualities. Mela is as fervid an idealist as the modernist artists she has long emulated; but for her the perfect world is always out of reach and always just achieved – for societies no less than for individuals, for art’s audience no less than for its creators. As a neo-modernist, she regards art as exemplary, a proposed mode of thinking that calls to other modes, a context for comprehension that at once changes and reifies perception. Mela M’s future is always present.

Los Angeles

June-August 2022


Art in America magazine, (April)

Art in America magazine, (April)


Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 21st Japan International Art Exchange Exhibit, Catalog (April)

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 21st Japan International Art Exchange Exhibit, Catalog (April)


MELA M MASHUPS by Writer, Art Critic and Curator Mat Gleason, 2022

The poetry of the subatomic and what it amounts to in the meta is at the heart of Mela M’s vast body of work. Her exhibition history has seen her experiment with and master many mediums, but she is at her core a painter. She composes objects in service to the pictorial and blasts them with an irradiated color germane to modernist painting sensibilities. Even when presented as a sculpture, her work is never not a painting. Her constructions are puzzles of possibility. Pictorial experiments in the round. But just because she does not adhere to the wall-mounted oil on canvas format doesn’t make her any less an heir to Malevich, El Lissitsky, Moholy-Nagy, and Rodchenko in the East and Stella, Halley, Kelly and Johns’ series of crosshatched paintings in the West.

In each of these artists, Mela finds her antecedent as she pushes forward their visual accomplishments into her own. Kasmir Malevich of course posited that the geometric was the next battleground for visual art after the figure. El Lissitsky, trained as an architect, honed geometry itself as simultaneous subject and composition. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy insisted on the forward thinking nature of pure form. Despite ending up as a propagandist, Alexander Rodchenko brought geometric abstraction into the realm of daily life. Each of these tangents can be found in kaleidoscopic layers – physically, compositionally and conceptually – throughout Mela’s oeuvre.

Working professionally in the United States for over twenty years, there is an encapsulation in her work of many influences from advanced American visual art. While the nerdy Peter Halley and the sensual Frank Stella hardly seem comparable, Mela’s art has anchored at both ports throughout her exhibition history. While nobody could ever accuse her of being a minimalist, her hard edges and distinct color harken to Ellsworth Kelly but with a rhythmic improvisation more akin to what Jasper Johns accomplished in his crosshatch paintings. Again, Mela’s mashups take canonical modernist history and rushes it all into the twenty-first century with a sense of freshness and purpose that will certainly be appreciated decades from now when the long arc of history will be easier to surmise.

Mela’s art is as fascinating a study in the East and West as the woman herself. Her compositions are resolutely geometric and of late almost always favor the jagged; resembling at times stacks of origami sculptures with their sharp diagonals and brilliant colors. But Mela is the child of Russian and Ukrainian parents, not the “Far East” of Origami but the easternmost battlefield in Europe.

Her color choices tend toward the saturated, and yet, the subtleties between two shades of one color, even when ramped up to the extreme, evince the eye of a colorist, a painter with subtleties even when delivered at a high visual volume. The hard edges of her Soviet predecessors were not known to carry nuance, but the possibilities of America allow her the chance to experiment in public – and her work, for all of its panache and certainty, is still radically experimenting with the formal possibilities of objecthood in the digital age.

Historically, we have to admire the rigorous devotion she has for pushing the possibilities of geometric abstract painting out of its ordinary confines. Our current historical era is more likely to reward an artist for painting a cartoon character in a hundred different poses. Left unappreciated is an artist whose work pushes into new visual territory. The worship of all things tech has left stranded analog artists who tinker at the formal level in finding new forms that have never existed outside the imagination. There is an art world for artists like Mela in which to share one’s accomplishments in the making of new realities in abstract objecthood, but culturally these things have a tiny audience. But they do have one thing working in their favor: posterity.

In a world infatuated with the digital, it is the painters that will deliver who we were/are to eyeballs in the far off future. Mela’s paintings carry the dual fascination and burden of the pixel. Her certain geometry and almost glowing colors mimic the digital experience in analog fabrication. She composes in a perfectly contemporary manner but fabricates with an eye on permanence. She is therefore battling with history as much as she is joining it. What we see on our screens and our phones as pixels will never survive a millenia, technology eats itself. But the materials of fine art that Mela uses have been proven to last. Put a painting in the attic and check back in four hundred years. Besides a layer of dust it is fine… future generations will understand the structural underpinnings of our digital era when Mela’s art is on display hundreds of years from now, grounded in art history, reflecting her specific illuminated era.

Essay by Mat Gleason
3/2/2022


To Gather: Frequencies Transformed, Mela M: Manifest Structures from the Imaginal by Suzanne Bybee, from the Structure exhibition at the Lancaster Museum of Art & History, CA, October 2–December 27 2021

From the Structure exhibition at the Lancaster Museum of Art & History, October 2 – December 26, 2021, Lancaster, CA, now on permanent display.

Familiar shadows are usually relegated to intervals early or late in the day – when glimpsed in the dark though, the implication is that an otherworldly presence is in attendance; however on Lancaster MOAH’s rooftop, shadows are summoned willingly and cast into different roles. What appears is an enclave of forms changing our perceptions of light, color, and time: The Entire Universe Moves Through Irregular Angles in a Rising Wall From an Architectonic City Without Name or Place or Time along with The Wall Temple at the Vanishing Point, balance transformations illuminating multi-surface activations, a choral of repeating and intricate elemental passages sliding away from walls and set as crystalline jewels reaching open and upward toward the heavens.

As a departure from its counterparts inside the museum, this wooden aqueduct and its attendants extend as a trestle would: climbing, a steep transport of fused elements move along the roof, ready to either welcome or jettison emanations into or out to distant galactic landings. They carry energies unseen, absorbing and transmitting reflections, an interleaving of temporal spaces, balanced steady by earthbound hours.

Twenty five different lights are transmissions painting the timbers; while refractions leap across different stratum, the medium saturates all the surfaces and though the structures are stationary, the sparkling, playful action cascades over the entire installation sweeping tight sequences of sharp arrays everywhere. The cloak of twilight and eventual darkness does change the encounter but this is not a completely separate moment from daylight – all these realms are of equal footing, all transitional moments, other states of being that create a topological encounter from several overlapping vantage points – as light is carried throughout, there is an integration, a visual electricity coursing through the whole of the assembly: sightlines map these solid landmarks and envelop the audience as if they are visiting the site of a ceremony or cosmic event.

The distances between the contemporary and the ancient, the earth and the cosmos are shortened; physical objects and bodies communicate their presences as nourishment for understanding place on a purely visual level in a heightened present. The cultivation of this new space binds powerful textures and captured articulations with renewed acuity – this is not a static experience: viewers are invited to investigate and acquaint themselves with the work, a moment of reflection and reverie. The rooftop landscape inspires the audience to stretch connections, imaginations and expressions advancing infinite possibilities of revelation and action.

Each aspect of the installation is a response to the natural world with offerings to larger, intangible, unknown spheres – grains amplified, the physicality of the wood stands intricately assembled; feathered wavelengths punctuating the structures, with no two outlines alike. All the angles, passages and climbing permutations add up to an earthly weight of 2.4 tons – this entire footprint, with its repeating arrangements and supports represents one and half years of labor intensive, creative exercise; meditative and truly somatic in focus. So many exclamations punctuate the constructions, day or night, defying time with their punches – explosive activity radiating, their precisely sanded edges and bodies bear witness to the artist’s commitment to emphasize process as intimate endeavor, standing away from the convention of overtly manufactured objects and revitalizing surfaces through the examination of meticulously singular details. The very action infuses vibrations into these blocks of stacked rays creating wavelengths undulating and releasing (from their own containment) visions of rarified landscapes; distinct vocabularies coupled with visible calculations that extend beyond place and space elaborating upon the possibility that the physical and the intangible already are of one body.

“The infinite variety of evolutionary complexities, inherent to the orderliness of complementary principles operative in Universe, is of unending synergetic uniqueness.”

Suzanne Bybee
Artist and Writer
December 31, 2021


THE AUTHORITY OF COLOR AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT, Mela M, November, 2021

In white light there is a combination of all the colors in the color spectrum that created all manifest forms that we can observe. It is in these functions of light and color in their energy forms that literally create the structure of matter. The chaotic beginnings of the cosmos was transformed into order by the speed of light in the electromagnetic wave and particle functions of color.

These current works are interpretations of the seamless interconnectedness between light and material forms. I also wanted to visually create irregular and uncommon shapes and colors for the challenge of achieving a perceptual balance in their apparent “chaotic“ and asymmetrical arrangements while simultaneously attempting to simulate a clear experientially felt sensation of intense vibratory movement and speed.

In the work “Betwixt and Between in Everything Seen” there is a reciprocal and dynamic interplay of vibrant color-intensive layers over unfamiliar angles and shapes. In becoming a participatory observer in a state of betwixt and between, or nowhere in particular, one can enable the element of surprise in everything seen because we can experience the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of unlimited possible outcomes. The intuitive imaginal seems to work this way.

Another point of view intended in these works is to connect with the subliminal feelings that seem difficult to define but, nevertheless, are indications of the pronounced uncertainty and unpredictability of the increasing magnitude of events that are impacting our lives. This conception can be experienced in the ominous irregularity of the sharp and angled forms in stark contrast to the inviting visual radiance of colors transported by the life-giving light of the cosmos.

The work “A Flash of Emblazoned Prismatic Light Emanating from a Solar Shape“ suggests a precise and bold accelerating revelation of explosive containment through the interplay of sharp edged shapes and vibrant colors.

The “Omegatropolis Bridge” represents the instantaneous passage that connects the trichotomy of past, present and future. It also connects the alpha and omega as the beginning and end points of a theoretically conscious universe. From here, the universe gradually unfolds meaningful informational timelines to help navigate discrete dimensions of hyperspace.

For me, “The Temple of Fire at the Event Horizon “signifies a manifestation of spontaneous genesis from the nonlocal immaterial dimension of the imaginal into the visible local material universe where light and color orchestrate and sculpt matter in a myriad of masterful architectonic forms.

I see the thematic authority of color at the speed of light in these works as an enhanced metaphor. One that will cultivate a more enlightened and harmonious authority in the relationships between art, science, our planet and the universe we are destined to share and explore.

Mela M
November, 2021


MANIFEST STRUCTURES FROM the IMAGINAL: the OMEGATROPOLIS, RISING WALL, the TEMPLE and the MOON CASTLE, Mela M, August, 2021

The general intention in this new body of work is to continue moving forward along the timeline of evolving my contemporary abstract perspectives of the architectonic world that surrounds us. This work, in part, is intentionally, yet always intuitively informed, designed to subliminally allow the viewer to apperceive their subjective experience of the trichotomy of geometric waves, vibrant fields and optic frequencies. This theme was dramatically featured in my previous work of 53 sculptural paintings on monolithic or totemic hand-built wood structures titled LOSING GRAVITY IN THE ORBITING MEGATROPOLIS: Geometric Waves, Vibrant Fields, and Optic Frequencies.

This current work references the synergistic multi-dimensional mirroring of conscious subjective experience from multiple levels and timelines archived in the viewers memory and imagination.

For example, consciously experiencing timelines as subjective movement or flow that infuses and informs the myriad states of mind that mirrors the vibrant forms, shapes and colors of my architectonic works is meant to evoke a provocative stream of consciousness as the past informs the present and the present and the past follow the arrow of time to imagine multiple future possibilities.

These pieces bear witness to the deeper cultural and species driven archetypes that define all human endeavors and have resulted in the creation of the architectonic structural organization of civilization from the simple to the ultra-complexity-based acceleration of science and technology. This body of work, hopefully, will challenge new and upcoming artists to observe and create in this new zeitgeist of a not so common era.

Consider THE EVOLUTION OF THE OMEGATROPOLIS THROUGH FOUR SEASONS OF ARCHITECTONIC METAMORPHOSIS. This work is a major accomplishment because it has evolved from my previous work titled “LOSING GRAVITY IN THE ORBITING MEGATROPOLIS”.

Each piece in OMEGATROPOLIS is 6‘ x 25 feet and will be placed on the wall as you first enter the museum. I used no template of any kind which allowed me to be exclusively driven by my creative imagination working through my intuition and experience.

I imagine OMEGATROPOLIS as the architecture of off-world colonies both in design and structure. The term omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and is often used to denote the ultimate limit or sequence of a set and is also symbolic of spiritual evolution and enlightenment as the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one.

In this work, the completion of this set definition of omega is by way of an evolution of the OMEGATROPOLIS through four vibrant, seasonally specific colorings of architectonic metamorphosis from one season, or first in a set, to the next and to the final of the four pieces.

OMEGATROPOLIS isn’t necessarily making a statement about the triumph of technology. Future off world technology can only be triumphant if we give back what we’ve taken from the good earth to replenish it. Thus, when we do leave this world to explore other dimensions, we will leave behind a more pristine planet much like the symbol of the garden itself.

If OMEGATROPOLIS embodies the ancient myth of the garden, then the future will either be a repeat of the myth of being cast out only to explore for the sake of grim survival or to correct the mistakes beforehand and leave behind a replenished and balanced world. Only then can our exploration into the dimensions of other worlds be full of beauty, excitement, wonder, poetry and a transcendent, balanced union between art and science.

For me, OMEGATROPOLIS vibrates with an astonishing sense of wonder, visual poetry, captivating prismatic color and a vibrant current that it is a biosphere where each compartment is optimal in its function to preserve and maintain the integrity of life, purpose and architectural evolution.

The large sculptural work in wood is titled THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE MOVES THROUGH IRREGULAR ANGLES IN A RISING WALL FROM AN ARCHITECTONIC CITY WITHOUT NAME OR PLACE OR TIME.

For this labor-intensive sculptural work, I cut, planed, sanded and varnished 3000 pounds of wood. I wondered what could possibly navigate through this extraordinary obsessive display of so many different conceivable angles combined to create a structural union of positive and negative space?
Our conscious universe, in all of its basic underlying structural elements, is capable of such motion.

Light, traveling at its own speed limit, easily moves through these angles to illuminate them in the trichotomy of our conscious, preconscious and unconscious mind. In deeper levels of mind, the light-illuminated angles reveal the archived architectural archetype of the wall. In other words, the archetype manifests itself as that energy unique to our species that, in the awareness of a continuous informational wave form, becomes every conceivable wall that has ever been constructed.

Consciousness flows through these angular spaces as imagination, bearing its gift of creativity, rides the arrow of time into the future where other walls are waiting to be imagined and built from the unlimited imaginal.

In addition, dimensions of space-time pass through the here-now as time itself is the ever changing present in a trichotomy of past, present and future.
If the wall represents an architectonic city without a name or place or time, the challenge of the wall is in its representation as a metonymic metaphor of all the walls that divide us and foster the illusion of separateness. The angles can metaphorically attest to the numerous divisive systems of thought, belief, philosophy, religion, politics or other “angles” of obfuscation that humankind still uses and promotes under the pretense of safety, protection, security, misunderstanding or instinctual bias. These perspectives can only perpetuate our existential conflicts and nihilistic impulses.

If this continues, if the walls don’t come down and we don’t look through these angular spaces that could be openings for a rational understanding of the other side, then the future will look back at us and see dystopian cities of walls without name or place or time.

Near the RISING WALL we contemplate the WALL TEMPLE AT THE VANISHING POINT. These “no two are alike” shapy angular columns ascend, as many temples with towers do, into the sky emphasizing the direction that leads to the heavens above. The interior of the temples are thought to be filled with the higher energetic frequencies associated with spiritual dimensions of consciousness. Looking up at the tower from the ground, we can imagine the vanishing point, just like the vanishing point of skyscrapers or any towering structures. These structural points in space, albeit perceptual illusions of perspective, are symbolic of the invisible arrow of time forever pointing to the future as the forever visible vanishing point beckons us to look up into building new architectural structures for this or other worlds. Random ornamentation with small irregularly shaped, color-rich pieces accentuate the tower offering an unexpected contrast to the natural beauty of the plain wood and perhaps symbolizes the spiritual dimension of the interior.

Along the wall of the second floor are what I call CITYSCAPES OF ARCHITECTONIC METAMORPHOSIS FOR THE COMMON ERA. These hand-drawn cities rise above and below the constructed horizon. The heart and the spirit of these cities vibrate with a higher consciousness of a new era. This vision of new architecture has the potential for a higher state of global integration through the commonality of similar city skylines resulting from their architectonic metamorphosis from the older to the slightly varying new structures.

Adjacent to the wall of CITYSCAPES in the display window, I have placed my sculptural piece titled THE TOTEM OF THE MOON CASTLE. This fanciful concept resulted in using a variety of vibrant colors to be used for the geometric patterns, lines and shapes on a phantasmagoric totem where the moon castle quietly rests on top emanating it’s calming aura. The entire sculpture itself exemplifies the reciprocating structural and prismatic phenomena of geometric waves, vibrant frequencies and optic fields. This one-of-a-kind monument or totem is symbolic of moon colonization with the spire of the castle pointing to further exploration of our solar system from the eternal resting orbital moon as the totem stands in contrast to the dull grayish landscape of a barren moon.

In summary, I offer new multi-layered, architectonic structural representations of the countless trichotomies built into our universe. Our universe is made knowable through our self-reflecting subjective conscious experience of our limited but expanding brain interface with the changing mirror of reality. It is a reciprocating reality that inspires simultaneous parallels of the creative dynamic of making the invisible visible through and by way of the light that makes all created things and life possible.

Mela M
August, 2021


Reaching for the Stars: A Cosmic Vision of Hope, Patricia Watts, May 2020

Over the last five years, Mela Marsh, who prefers to go by simply M, has constructed a series of works that are psychic and psychedelic—manifestations derived from a growing consciousness that vast resources are being spent on preparations for humans to leave planet Earth. Having lived in Los Angeles for over twenty years and coming from post-Soviet Russia, M presents work evincing a cross between neo-futurist Syd Mead’s glowing sci-fi cities and revolutionary Kazimir Malevich’s geometric avant-garde paintings. She intuitively conflates painting and sculpture to construct architectonic hybrids that radiate shape-shifting energies, sending us worlds beyond.

Painters have made big leaps in recent years deciding where and how paintings can exist within the white cube. In this way, M’s sculptures are really paintings that have found a fresh placement. Anne Truitt, who explored the boundary between painting and sculpture with her characteristic vertical forms of assembled painted wood in the 1960s, is a subtle predecessor in setting color free into three dimensions. Yet M’s standing works are not reductive objects of formalism; they are pulsating visions comprised of individual works assembled as a group to create a transformational experience. M’s work communicates a future that resonates within, beyond the object.

Ever since she was a young girl, M has always looked up to the stars–perhaps a legacy of Russian Cosmism, in which colonizing space was believed to provide humans immortality and a carefree existence, a proposition of the Father of Rocketry, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. M’s interest in future worlds, providing an escape from our current reality, has been ongoing. Before and after arriving in the U.S., she made colorful kaleidoscopic paintings of figures or beings emanating from other planes. From 2000 to 2015, she created architectonic wall constructions, nonobjective and occasionally over eight feet high. Her shaped panel work represents a significant artistic contribution—from a female artist in Los Angeles—and has inspired many young artists through the years.

Starting in 2015, M began cutting wood into hundreds of geometric shapes and forms over several months without knowing what the end result would be. With these freshly cut pieces M made Pink Sun Over the City and dedicated it to Judy Chicago. In this work the artist connects with the archetypal feminine spirit, employing color as the medium of transmission. The hot pink awakens her architectonic forms with a vibration of female strength, something M feels is needed on Earth in this millennium. M states, “As a female artist, this painting shines and illuminates with the light and power of inspiration as it rises over this male-dominated world.”

In 2017, upon her return from a three-month residency in Japan, M made a visit to the SpaceX rocket facility in Los Angeles. This experience inspired her to assemble the wood forms into fifty-three sculptural pieces over the next three years. The series is titled Losing Gravity in the Orbiting Megatropolis and features geometric waves, vibrant fields, and optic frequencies. With these works, M shifts her focus beyond an attraction to architectonic forms into a transmutation of energy and planetary feminism, a personal vision of raising cosmic consciousness.

In 2020, continuing with this series during the pandemic, M has worked on at least ten to twenty pieces at one time. Cathedral Satellite Beacon on the Angular Topography of a Blue Moon is a smaller work placed on a pedestal. The cathedral is a celebration of what religion or spirituality might ascend to if our communion with a higher power were literally on a moon gazing back at Earth. The kaleidoscopic cathedral beams out a balanced energy, a synergistic oneness with the universe. It also doubles as a rocket.

A most impressive piece made right before quarantine is Escape from Retrograde Through a Shape Shifting Space Elevator with Abstract Quantum Enhancements. A fluorescent pink column 96 inches high is perched on a poured cement block base with seven structures seemingly losing gravity while leaving Earth. The base structure is de-lineated with a dark blue color, representing the male or Earth energy from which the feminine escapes skyward abandoning the masculine. Retrograde, going backwards, is no longer an option.

Architectural Solar Variations Across Space and Time no. 3 lies on the floor, freestanding, a polygon of energy looking displaced on a foreign surface. This prismatic jewel displays the characteristic of PaSColor, an acronym that M invented in 2018 to identify the relationship between painting and sculpture + color. The artist feels that the vibrant color spectrum she presents provides a frequency through which her audience can have a transformative encounter.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” M’s PaSColor works help to create a heightened sense of awareness of a more conscious balance of the feminine and masculine energies. Her work signals an awakening that is essential for humans to survive on planet Earth.

Patricia Watts
May 2020


On Mela M’s 917 ANGLED COLOR ENGINEERED FEM ELECTRIC BRIDGE, by Suzanne Bybee, 2020

917 ANGLED COLOR ENGINEERED FEM ELECTRIC BRIDGE
Losing Gravity in the Orbiting Megatropolis: geometric waves, vibrant fields and optic frequencies

Unseen shifts occur where we walk, drive, congregate and sleep. In the supercity seismic activity is a given; faults and thrusts shudder through multiple zones and sections in the Earth, moving without interruption – from somewhere deep within the core inhabitants on the surface encounter transference of these energies, emerging outward and pushing up. As these energies converge, a geodetic passage is forming where balanced pillars plucked from staccato Richter scale lines reveal transmissions of steep edges and open recesses in an accordion structure. In 917 Angled Color Engineered Fem Electric Bridge, forces unfold throughout the body of the composition, steadily generating the flow of lightning fast current that provides stature and gravitational strength to a developing edifice. This bridge is a delicate, vulnerable extension attentively fused; its sharp borders penetrate reverberating foundational legs – an accomplishment to fitfully connect forces into one uniform expansion of un-dimensional elements: it houses space and time, the remainder of details fashioned from eons of shaking and quaking repetitions, the accumulations retained, reimagined and harnessed to witness the creation of this tangible being. The rise and fall of so many contained lines creates a multitude of spellbound silhouettes that wash over this being, holding viewers’ attention in such a way that we must look for a point to focus upon, a useful spot in our spinning. The open mystery of the piece is compelling, sustaining a reverie between the familiar and the unrecognizable. The entry is accessible from either side, open but divided, its center an invisible portal – a representation magically superimposing the precision of technical line variances on shaped wood sequencing, its appearance like a crack in the wall, amplifying color decoded circuitry and tectonic messages. On one side it retains a flat demeanor: a neon pink binding carefully interspersed throughout inner contours, accentuating the outlines of the construction; on the other, topographic intersections recede into articulated beats of firmament blues and purples, neoprene greens and solar yellows; though it is stationary, contained consecutive steps are interchangeably energized moving in multiple directions all over its physical terrain. Dynamic feminine components disperse powerful charges into the object, coursing through visible highways widening and narrowing, navigating tricky bends where quick compensation is needed – high speed actions euphorically enveloping all connectors, traces, and shadows, embracing desires and great unknowns. This flexible and equally complex assemblage is imbued with prowess and strength, standing fully aware and self-assured. To pass through and around this entity the audience is made aware of oppositional forces at work, challenging preconceived concepts of what elements constitute architecture, painting, sculpture and installation – a renewed sense of awe connects the technical with the hand of the artist and the enhanced unpredictability of nature. The presence of image making is apparent; created with cathodes, anodes and excited electrons, a state of becoming is depicted, uniting indeterminate qualities with calculated production.

Suzanne Bybee
Artist and Writer
May 13th, 2020