New Paintings 2: Eddie Martinez @ Loyal, Stockholm
The exhibition title New Paintings 2 is a nod to Eddie Martinez’s 2008 solo show at Loyal titled New Paintings. And with that “2” Eddie illustrates what all the texts written about him over his 15 year career try to do, but never in so few words. In the 2 is Eddie’s attention to detail. It’s his attention to the viewer’s attention. It says the only other way to say it would be a drawn out version. It acknowledges that time plays a part when you gather and connect. It says that the continuum is important. It leans on the viewers to grow with the time. It’s the fast way to say the most. It brings you right to the point right away. And I think of all of that. And to keep a nod going for 13 years is attention to details and acknowledging continuation of bonds formed and bonds kept.
Martinez’s phrasing is more suggestive than literal. In his work you do not find a singular point of view or an opinion recorded in paint. It is being recorded in paint. The living of life and its turbulences and aspirations, flipped and tossed with finesse until it spins. Easy to sing yet difficult to play, perfectly constructed yet tricky to decipher.
It’s like little puzzles that he gives to you and they can mean what they mean. It’s like a distillation of the experience rather than a depiction of it. Retaining the power of abstraction, but all the while reaching out for form.
When the pen hits the paper some invisible map takes hold and it all seems to unfold, but you can’t see the plan yet because beneath lies a system of organization respected by the artist, his own percussive system. Deep bass booms and rounded sounds. Soft baritone voice like a big brush. Washes of color, delicate and gentle. Thin wavering lines, like flute notes hovering above the composition. A high trumpet part as yellow banana. A soft harmony of red spotted mushrooms. Woo-ma-aan. Every color, sound and shape has a natural feeling-tone, just as every feeling has equivalence in the world of sight and sound.
This rhythm can also be seen in the seriality that has always been an important part of Martinez’s practice as he constantly revisits, seeking new ways of revisiting groupings of forms he’d already ordered, knowing their possibilities to be infinite. It’s a whole collection of imagery that relates but hits in different ways at different times, right down the line.
There’s always these really great nuggets of ideas in every Martinez drawing that just unlock the imagination. He gets it started, and then you can explore it and develop it in your own mind, going somewhere where you’ve never been before.
With an artistic demeanor likened to that of a boxer (his jabbing attacks), such is the stuff of his approach to composition, surrealism melted with a fantastical fury in Eddie’s dexterous hands. He sprays, dabs, smudges and presses paint. A dust bowl dust up mixup of characters like seeing a rowdy brawl, fists poking out of the melee. A figure appears. Is it an eye, a bird, a boxing gloved hand, a tennis ball? What detritus from a life lived in paint can appear. The draftsman covered from top to toe in paint conducting a symphony of marks and washes, the back end of the brush with a back handed flourish. His lines retain the nonchalance. His textures, rough, jagged push them beyond symbol into a realm less predictable.
Martinez can also be noted for his use of space and silence. There are silences throughout his work, as he intersects his spaces with whiteout pauses, he doesn’t paint everything, let’s some things go by. What you don’t show can be as important as what you do.
And despite all the seeming contradictions, there’s an essential rightness about everything he creates. There is something a bit mysterious in these colors and clashes on the canvas and big bashes of form. And then he brings that nugget back in, and every time he repeats it, it makes it stronger and more bold, more vivid. The only way I can describe this act of generating form is geometric, because he’s thinking in three dimensions. His pictorial configurations all have different densities. It’s how he places them in the arena, the rhythmic feel, making the right mistakes, automatism, accident, found objects, and how he glories in looseness.
Amy Giunta and Martin Lilja, Stockholm, 2021