From comic strip-style skits on the drudgery of daily life to dark labyrinthine worlds exposing humanity’s foibles, British artist Martin Langford's etchings are a masterclass in wit, style and technique.
In a major solo show this autumn, ‘This Is Us’, Martin returns to west London gallery For Arts Sake with a wealth of new works taking a blackly humorous look at the way we, as a society, are architects of our own existential crises.
Recurring themes include the monolithic, looming creature forged from heavy industry, hard architecture and accumulated junk. Inspired by disaster movies of old – Godzilla, King Kong – these images satirise our obsessions with consumption, consumerism and cash-fuelled Big City expansion.
In other works, our domestic lives are rendered bleak cartoons of victimhood and the dark machinations of the mundane 9-5 are exposed. Elsewhere quietly blistering pieces interrogate the relentless decimation of our natural environment. There is hope, too, though – the flourishing of green shoots amidst, and in spite of, the desolation.
Says Martin: “My work tends to focus on the environment, the evolution of man and his material wealth, the development of bigger and bigger cities, more and more people, cars and industry on the planet and the consequences this has on nature. Some reviews have labelled my work as ´black humour´ but I always try to depict a positive message too – the persistence of nature in recapturing what once belonged to the earth.”
He adds: “‘This Is Us’ is about how we have collectively as a society ‘created’ what we have now. The large creatures I draw – whether they are made from buildings, industry, cities or the junk we throw out – these represent ‘us’; a manifestation of our actions.”
A member of the prestigious Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Martin studied under the renowned David Glück on the Advanced Printmaking MA at Central St Martin’s. He was drawn early on to the graphic black and white quality of etching, and cites among his inspirations the late comic book author Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb, Georges Seurat and M.C. Escher.