In a daring new work, Martin has dramatically transcended the two-dimensional. On arriving at the gallery, the visitor is confronted by the monumental, matt black, cubed block, ‘Behemoth’, measuring 3m x 3m at its base and over 2.6m high. Comprising layer upon layer of stacked virgin cork coated in pure black pigment, the squatting sculpture dominates its setting. The work is impossible to understand in a single perspective and the spectator is forced to negotiate its sides and edges, unable to access its top.
Pushing the boundaries of painting is at the core of Martin’s creative process. These continuing investigations are evinced in a series of vividly intense, jewel-like pure pigment paintings. Taking a basic sculptor’s medium as his starting point, Martin has molded, scraped, and gouged the material to create a dense, turbulent, worked surface. Intensely vibrant pure pigment is then applied in layers directly to the still wet medium.
Martin makes paintings about paint – its materiality, sculptural presence and transformative, alchemical nature. The energy of Martin’s process is palpable in a new series of rich, dark, monochromatic oil on aluminium works. In ‘Tempest’ (2011), the dense swathes of colour are applied in thick, fluid, overlaid brushstrokes. Light plays across the surface echoing the dynamism and vigour of its making. Sensual and tactile, each work in this group is definitively autonomous.
These hand-worked surfaces form the basis for an exciting new series of cast works. As with the pigments, Martin manipulates the medium, which is then cast – in nickel, copper or bronze. The resultant mirrored surface of, for example, ‘Titus’ (2012), is smooth and impenetrable, its nature discrete. The restless energy of the pigments has been hushed – the implicit movement frozen and a primordial gesture made concrete.