The paintings of Marco Henrie’s function like pictorial rituals. Inspired by Native American communities near where he grew up, Henrie’s works invoke tribalism as much as abstraction. Working mainly with acrylic paints on different surfaces (paper, canvas, cardboard), his take on abstraction emphasizes layering, and the spontaneous formations that occur when a color is translucently placed over another.
In a work like The Great Explorers, the vastness of the North American landscape is symbolized by the melding of a bird and woman. The fact that the figures are drawn with marker gives them a primitive appearance, like an aboriginal cave image. Compounded with this is the way layers of acrylic paint have settled behind the two figures, suggesting craggy desert sand. The sparseness of detail required to render these two figures shows to what extent indigenous Native American cultures have shaped the collective psyche of North Americans. Further, the diminutive landscape drawn at the bottom of the painting is rendered like a language, as though space itself could be deciphered like a visual legend or code.