Chris Martin

Chris Martin
Untitled, 2005
Acrylic, acrylic gel, paper towels, newsprint and oil on canvas
342.9 x 289.6 cm

Pushing the boundaries between the most sophisticated formalism and outsider art’s instinctive logic, Chris Martin makes abstract painting look enviably effortless. His large scale canvases reflect a zany approach to experimentation and a methodological mode of play, conceiving painting as something intrinsically haptic that resolves from an intimately hands-on negotiation of materials. Martin’s works are renowned for their extremely physical surfaces which are created by collaging found items onto the canvas. In Untitled, the painting’s texture is made from paper towels, newspaper, and acrylic gel – a thick paint-like substance resembling liquid plastic. Over-painting these with a bold graphic motif of a constellation network, Martin references the connective processes of making, placing his topsy-turvy rationale as a field of wonder and contemplation.

Chris Martin
In Memory of James Brown, 2005
Oil, acrylic gel medium and collage on canvas
342.9 x 299.7 cm

Martin often uses pop cultural references in his paintings, paying homage to his many influences from the fields of literature, film, and music. By making the sources of his inspiration the subject of his work, Martin shares the ‘behind the scenes’ processes of his practice, giving insight to an approach to abstraction which is informed as much by art history as contemporary media. In Memory of James Brown “Godfather of Soul” is a painting which took 2 years to complete; though Martin’s work often appears playfully spontaneous, this aesthetic is developed through prolonged reconsideration and reworking of the canvas, with some pieces taking
as much as 20 years to finish. The black and white pattern, painted over a collage, resembles both vinyl LPs and an 60s op art – a movement whose revolutionary funkadelic stylings are a worthy tribute to Brown’s legacy.

Chris Martin
Mother Popcorn, 2006
Oil and collage on canvas
162.6 x 149.9 cm.

Mother Popcorn takes its title from the James Brown hit which is considered to be one of the most pivotal tracks in the development of his distinctive funk sound. The text along the side of the painting: “James Brown Dances and Directs The Popcorn with the James Brown Band” (the title of Brown’s album) places Martin’s abstract motif as a stand in for pictorial narrative, the loud rhythmic pattern conveying the essence and energy of a live performance. Embedded in the surface is a 12” LP, its extreme texture and readily identifiable shape create a tactile sensation within the painting, giving the canvas a physical dynamic that extends beyond looking and taps into collective memory and experience.

Chris Martin
Untitled, 2006
Acrylic gel, oil, newsprint and banana peel on canvas
122.2 x 96.5 cm

Martin is often described as a genuine “artist’s artist”: his works are as much a celebration of creative experiment and discovery as they are exciting resolutions. Activating his studio as a ‘laboratory’, Martin’s compositions arise as visual intersections or collision points where the artist’s interests, experiences, and ideas converge. Martin’s crude style reflects his concept of painting as speculative ‘concoctions’, their casual and seductive appearance facilitating the appreciation of the intimacy of his practice. In Untitled Martin approaches painting through the devices of slapstick humour. Incorporating banana skins into the surface, he sets up his canvas as a slippery terrain of choreographed folly. Using grotty oranges, yellows, and greens against an oily black ground Martin configures his painting as an abject and spectacular universe, dotted by haloed white spots that dazzle with ‘best-effort’ glamour.

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Saatchi Gallery is currently closed with plans to reopen on Weds 19 May 2021. For more details, including information about our upcoming programme, please visit our FAQs.

Thursday, 15 April 2021: COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:

Following the UK Government’s latest announcement and easing of restrictions, Saatchi Gallery aims to open its galleries from Wednesday, 19 May 2021 with access to our Ground Floor exhibitions Artificial Isolation and Philip Colbert: Lobsteropolis.

Our summer headline exhibition, JR: Chronicles, will open across two floors of the Gallery on 4 June through to 3 October 2021. You can pre-book your tickets here.

The Gallery continues to prioritise the health and safety of its visitors and staff, and as such, there is limited capacity in the building and pre-booking is strongly advised. We ask that visitors abide by the Covid-19 guidance and measures.