This past weekend, Amsterdam Gallery KochxBos opened a new solo exhibition with painter Martine Johanna. Titled Dark Matter, the exhibition explores her own journey as an artist and woman. Utilizing bright pastels and psychedelic forms, Johanna's work has evolved and matured, producing a showcase that is both maximalist in style and skillful in execution.
According to the gallery, Martine Johanna’s work is largely autobiographical. Using colour, form, and composition as language, she investigates the role of women within a patriarchal culture, beauty, and female adolescence. Oppression, inner worlds, and femininity are themes recurring in her wordless communication.
"After the loss of my mother, I started questioning my motivation.” Johanna explains Dark Matter, “Never before have I realised, that all my life as a ‘difficult child’, I have been searching for my parents' recognition. Who do you become when the people that you seek validation from, suddenly disappear? I had to find the right motivation within myself, deliver my own affirmation. I had to leave regret and sorrow behind me."
Aesthetically, this new body of work has shifted quite a bit from her previous series. Experimenting with abstracted shapes, fragmented compositions and prismatic colors, Johanna has stepped out of her comfort zone to create work that oscillates between hyperreal and abstract. Always incredibly skillful with her brush, these new paintings have a tentative, exploratory feel to them.
The artist explains... “When I started working, large, threatening, abstract shapes of darkness appeared. As a child I once made friends with the shadows in my room, and today, in a similar manner, I enter a relationship with all aspects of myself that I find unpleasant. These forms create a positive dialogue, with the introspective (child) woman and her experiences, in swirling colour masses. Soft pink is often present as the comfort of security and innocence. "
"My vision, the creative process and its ritual, are for me the most important aspects of my work.” Martine says about her method, “I photograph the models myself, and digitally arrange and extract the compositions, but use them as a rough example, with the final result always being different. I mainly paint with acrylics in layers and lines, in a saturated colour spectrum."
Text by Jessica Ross
Dark Matter is on view at KochxBos in Amsterdam until June 23rd. Be sure to check it out.