Currently on show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is a two person show featuring Joe Bradley and Chris Martin. The austere, often bare canvases by Bradley offer a dramatic contrast to the characteristically large, boisterous works exhibited by Chris Martin and so presented side-by-side, like a lecture in Art History, contrasting these sensibilities offers the viewer an opportunity explore the wide spectrum of today’s approach to the painting practice and, in turn, raises the question of movements in Contemporary art. The exhibition marks a continuation of an ongoing dialogue between the two artists from an interview published in ‘The Journal’ in Fall 2009 in which the two discuss an artists freedom to create without really knowing what it is they’re doing.
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Chris Martin, who was first active in the mid-1980s and was known for his strong, graphic, highly textured abstraction. In this show he presents a number of enormous canvases that have been absent from recent exhibitions. Known for “turning up the volume” of painting, many of Martin’s works reference musicians including Miles Davis and John Coltrane. In this instance, he makes direct reference to the ‘Godfather of Soul,‘ James Brown, in the work “Ain’t it funky” – an enormous, 135×114 collage consisting of seven of the musician’s records. Another of Martin’s works on show consists of six stuffed bed pillows attached to a canvas in two rows of three vertical rectangles.
The bold graphics, textures and colour so inherent in Martin’s work is entirely absent in Bradley’s bare-boned offerings – many of which are simply raw canvses with painted frames. Gone are the artists’s brightly coloured quadrilaterals that brought him fame at the beginning of the last decade. It is unclear whether these works, all made this year, are the product of a conscious effort to distinguish himself from Martin for the purpose of this show.