Chris Martin: Mitchell Innes & Nash
While possessing qualities of both children's art and eastern tantric abstraction, Chris Martin's paintings engage the world. Things you might find lying around the house are collaged into the work: sponges, old blankets, bits of newspaper. The resulting bumps, creases and wrinkles give the work an emphatically handmade quality, an air of straightforwardness and humility.
In Samuel Palmer, the artist's homage to a 19th-century British visionary painter, Martin glues scraps of material onto an inky-blue, starry-night landscape with cartoon trees, making it look fractured and torn like an old pair of jeans. The dreamy otherworldliness of the scene is thus grounded by a matter-of-fact spontaneity. In Afghan Painting, a blanket is stretched across canvas and encrusted with brightly colored daubs of paint. Three pictures of frogs cut from magazines have been stapled on, transforming this otherwise ordinary bit of knitting into an unnatural habitat. The canvas peeking through the afghan adds an additional layer of meaning or memory. Martin's paintings are sociable, inclusive and eager to communicate his enthusiasms. Often signed and dated in clumsy block letters along the bottom, he sometimes includes messages to his heroes, as in Good Morning Alfred Jensen Good Morning! A writer as well as an artist, Martin, in a 2002 issue of The Brooklyn Rail wrote of Jensen that his paintings "blazed with the light of a living investigation." One could say the same of his own compositions: They are imperfect and weathered, yet vibrant and joyful. Read the entire article hereSource:
Odd Artist Out Chris Martin's show is a living room, an ashram, and an opium den by Jerry Saltz
Chris Martin is a perennial member of the large, by nature neglected, nonetheless crucial and treasured confederacy known as "artist's artists." He's one of the dark horses and workers-at-the-edge respected by their peers who never quite get their due. Probably most artists feel like members of this tribe to one degree or another. I don't know if there's a correlation between Martin's generous-to-a-fault, almost shoot-yourself-in-the-foot selflessness and his reputation as one of the better underappreciated painters around, but his current all-over-the-place not-really-a-one-man show draws attention to his dilemma.
Picasso said, "A painter's studio should be a laboratory." Martin's show is that, a living room, an ashram, and an opium den. As is some of the surrounding neighborhood. On the front of an abandoned building across the street from the gallery hang several of Martin's brightly colored geometric abstract paintings. A huge 9 x 11 foot black-and-red painting of a circuit configuration hangs on the side of the gallery building itself. Not only is it great to see an artist employ modern paintings as urban frescoes, it's nice to know that people don't deface them-a few of these have been here for years.
Martin's giving spirit continues inside the gallery, where a cushy couch, conga drums, Persian rugs, and pillows are scattered about. A soundtrack of classic rock plays (compiled by the artist's 15-year-old daughter); the smell of incense and roses wafts through the air. Adding to the hippie flavor are nearly 200 keepsakes or power objects hanging cheek by jowl, floor to ceiling, in the rear room. Here, there's art by Martin's friends, his influences and inspirations, as well as paintings by fellow underknowns like Don Voisine, Glenn Goldberg, and Joyce Pensato. There are postcards, newspaper clippings, obituaries of famous artists, pictures of his high school art teacher, a samba drum, Indian miniatures, and who-knows-what. It's his own private Salon des Refuse or a walk-in wonder cabinet. There are also works by Martin himself. All are abstract and have the feel of sacred diagrams by way of pop art and minimalism. Some are done on paper towel, stilts, and banana peels. His psychedelic and mystic leanings surface in titles like Epiphany and Mushroom People.
The poster for the show says as much about Martin being an artist's artist as it does about this clan and its future. A large color photo depicts more than 60 people among a half-dozen of Martin's works on the Williamsburg waterfront with Manhattan as backdrop. Among sundry dogs, drummers, and guitarists are fellow artist's artists like Mike Ballou, Win Knowlton, and Dan Walsh. In effect, Martin is saying one of two things: either "When Williamsburg is developed, real estate prices will skyrocket, and all this will be lost forever"; or "Come hell or high rents the Williamsburg spirit will change but live on." I believe the latter. Read the entire article hereSource: