Known for his work focused on contemporary imaging of nature, the artist’s debut exhibition with the gallery marks the first solo show in New York of the non-objective paintings he has been making for the last four years.
The work in “New Congress” poses a counterpoint to endgame painting, engaging play while skirting familiar tropes of expression. Complicating the relationship between the handmade and the mechanical, these often inscrutably produced works embrace difference as a function of their dynamic contribution to the larger group. By employing resonant color and articulated forms that toggle between stability and optical animation, each painting is meant to introduce distinct perceptual additions to the expanded framework of the exhibition. Martin has said, “I think of the paintings operating the way a community ideally could, with strong individuals working in tandem, finding affinities but also antagonizing each other in order to produce something larger.” Overlapping scrims, striations, transparencies, patterns and geometries inhabit the often facture- less surfaces of Martin’s meticulous canvases. While the paintings might most easily be described as “abstract” despite being born out of a desire to work against what he had previously taken for granted when making a painting, the new work bears traces of Martin’s longstanding interest in the conventions of picturing. As critic Suzanne Hudson wrote in a recent catalogue essay, Martin’s new paintings contain a “contextualizing insistence on the representational act before the representation.” With assiduous negotiation between design, illusionism and depiction, the paintings draw from the hybridized nature of current image production, aiming to collapse categorical distinctions and promote generative exchange.