In his new suite of paintings, Eddie Martinez finds a suitable platform for unloading his abundant imagination and blurring the line between traditional modes of painting. Sometimes uninhabited, otherwise replete with boxers and ping pong warrior-saints, tabletop landscapes are littered with an accumulation of studio detritus including a bowling ball, sunglasses, shoes, bottles, skulls, birds and plants that combine to become a disheveled portrait after a late night of work or perhaps some contemporary Brooklyn Belshazzar’s feast.
In his essay “A Paradox of Genre,” João Ribas asserts that Martinez’s work suggests “the reconciliation of the principles of modern painting – flatness and self-referentiality among them – with the seemingly pre-modern function of genre as a communicative form.” Moreover, he states: “His drawings and paintings both look to genre painting to enact a confrontation with tradition, negotiating a set of pictorial conventions drawn from the vocabulary of genre, yet through the modernist logic of subjective, individual style. It is through the reworking of the genres of portraiture, still-life, and allegorical narrative, these symbolic eighteenth and nineteenth century forms, that Martinez pairs traditional structure with self-generated imagery. The result are dense, playful, but considered paintings, revolving around the iteration of his signature motifs.”
The artist delineates the tone of each work by its background; whether thickly scumbled off-white voids or the foreboding weight of a burnt umber sky, each canvas is besieged by the over-riding vitality of the artist’s unmistakably raucous versatility. The artist’s lively vocabulary of subjects is matched in exuberance only by his endless palette and vibrant, effortless variation in paint application. Thin washes overlay lush impasto as spray-paint underlies oil stick — a vast array of mark-making further attesting to Martinez’s artistic bounties.
Martinez’s paintings and drawings have been featured in shows at the Athens Biennial; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; Deitch Projects, New York; and Peres Projects, Berlin, among others. This exhibition coincides with the release of a two-volume, dual-artist hardcover catalogue featuring Eddie Martinez and Chuck Webster, co-produced by PictureBox Inc. The Martinez volume features “A Paradox of Genre,” by João Ribas, curator at The Drawing Center, New York.