Road Marking, 2017 - 2018

Thermoplastic paint and reflective glass particles on a grey board

The Road Marking (2017) series revisits Divecha’s Urban Epidermis (2012), a set of weighty and realistic replicas of sections of local roads, their painstakingly recreated asphalt surfaces bearing all the signs of daily wear and tear from jagged cracks and faded yellow and white markings to skid marks and oil stains.

For the new series, Divecha collaborated with some of the crews who maintain road markings across Dubai, separating the painted mark from the substrate of the city, transforming a municipal tool for marshalling traffic into a means of gestural and formal expression and experimentation. Applied, instead, onto rectangles of grey board—each 50 centimetres tall by 35 centimetres wide—the thick gooey thermoplastic paint is almost sculptural, uncannily approximating impastoed oil paint. Like the individual unit in a grid, the standardised support can be repeated infinitely, allowing Divecha to carefully map the city’s marked surface.

The locations where and conditions under which each crew worked shaped the nature of their interaction with Divecha, differentially affecting the output in subtle ways. The information heavy title of each work acknowledges this by including the specific location within the city where it was created. Refreshing existing road markings on an active thoroughfare in Nad Al Hamar, the first crew, working under severe time constraints, were methodical and regimented, like a well-oiled machine. At this site, Divecha simply but strategically inserted his boards into a maintenance protocol already underway, like a surveyor sampling an ongoing process to ensure its proper functioning, carefully transcribing segments of pre-existing road markings as they were being refreshed. In one, a thick yellow line stretches triumphantly up across two vertically stacked boards. In another, a white triangle extends across the top right corner of a pair of adjacent panels. In a third, white paint simply fills the left two thirds of a single frame. And scattered across a set of boards leaning casually against a wall, are various white shapes that together constitute an arrow. In each, an infographic is selectively framed, cropped or deconstructed to produce a minimal geometric composition, a type of found abstraction.

Marking a new unused road within a residential development under construction in Al Barsha South, the other crew had more liberty to experiment and improvise, to test the full potential of their medium and its unique delivery system. This latitude, in some ways, wrested artistic agency away from Divecha. These works often feature a single line of varying length and width, a spontaneous but tentative gesture. Others are more considered. In one, the board is neatly divided into a yellow and white triangle. In another, a wide band of white paint obscures the bottom two thirds of a yellow band of similar width applied directly to the board. As an experiment, this board was allowed to dry vertically resulting in noticeable sag along the top edge of the white band, where paint overlapped paint.

(Text by Murtaza Vali)

This project was supported by Byblos Roads Marking and Traffic Signs LLC - Ghassan Kandil, Sanas V Salam, Sattanathan selvarasu, Ponnalagan Solai, Muhammed Javed Babar, Alagu Veeran, Zia Ur Rahman, Manivasagam Chinnu, Wasim Ahmad, Sarathbabu Jaybal, Abhijith Jayachandran, Kumara Swamy Ganesula, Zawar hussain, Yasir Shah, Akhilesh Chauhan, Rajeev Chauhan, Ranjeet Jhalman, Ajay Chauhan, Uma Mahesh Vegistte, Ghulam, Muhammad Noman, Speen Badshah. RTA - Musab Yahyia Al-Asawedh, Ashraq Abdul Jaleel, Zeyad Adel Amayri

In 2018 Divecha created a new series of 'Road Marking' works in New York, following various crews during the early hours that work in the borough of Manhattan.

2018 © Vikram Divecha