pure pigment on aluminum
78 3/4 x 70 7/8 in. (200 x 180 cm)
Jason Martin: Near By Farâ€¨
July 21 through Aug, 27, 2011â€¨â€¨
Imagine if each of us humans had eye sockets embedded in the palms of our hands, an image at once gruesome yet strangely appealing. The monster in the film Pan’s Labrinyth employed this physical strategy to catch greedy little children who descended into his lair to feast on sumptuous grapes. Only the lucky ones got out alive. I’ve not had the pleasure of inspecting the palms of his hands, but Jason Martin approachs the act of painting with a tactility that borders on the grotesque, a luscious and provocative fluidity that is maddeningly sexy and sensual, frozen in space and time and yet very nearly carnal in its provocations. All in all it is clear that a “seeing eye” is working straight through this artist’s hand with lightening speed and a specific trajectory, i.e. to stand as visual testament to the possibilities of movement in paint however quiet and stealthy those gestures may be.
Works like the ubiquitous Genus (2011) offer a compellingly stalwart account of the possibility of movement as this pure pigment on panel work verifiably twists and seethes within itself as though we as viewers were witnessing the secret, inner life of an electric current as it surges along its ten miles of coil. Martin’s fierce and uncompromising use of color, in this case magenta, heightens the experience of looking into the painting whereby the color field transforms into its own electric playing field. Still, other works in the exhibition are more overt with their agenda as is the case with Tzion (2011) where Martin’s slathering of the paint loses its effectiveness to the heft and weightiness of the color gold. The two gold paintings in the exhibition (Tzion and Shaolin) appear more obviously decorative, the works inherent fluidity obfuscated by the false decadence that presupposes anything shiny and gold. Gold and silver are tricky colors by which an artist might hope to appear honest, if not to the world, then at least to himself, and these two works are no exception. It’s like introducing small children and puppies on stage at the Ahmanson during a great performance of Hamlet. Anyone is bound to be upstaged.
The title of the show offers a glimpse into Martin’s working process, Near By Far, meaning that the way in which we as viewers “see” or witness an artwork is strangely its own journey “where far only becomes near from the reflection of the distance traveled. Getting closer depends on your perception of how far you have traveled. This can be an illusion, and to arrive at a place is, of course, another departure.” The immediacy and materiality of the paint is projected forward of the picture plane creating a sense of intimacy, yet within that intimate gesture is tremendous movement which broadens and expands the image outward beyond itself. This is a truly experiential process both for the artist as well as for the viewer, or as Grace Slick so eloquently put it, referring to the New Wonderland of experimental drugs, “One pill makes you larger. One pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all.”
Installation photography, Jason Martin - Near by Far, 21 July – 27 August 2011
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