Drawing inspiration from the impressive two-floor layout at Anton Kern’s uptown locale, painter Chris Martin has dug into his voluminous output for a show of paintings in New York City. Cultivating the artist’s love for the painted canvas, and for the boundless enthusiasm that surges forth from each of his compositions, the show offers a fittingly colorful, joyous survey of the artist’s work, both in recent months and more broadly over the course of his career.
Chris Martin loves painting, his enthusiasm for the medium clearly shown in his mixture of colors and attentive, yet energetic brushstrokes, often capping works off with flurries of movement and the occasional field of glitter, arriving at pieces that veritably explode with light and movement. His glitter compositions are balanced against great washes of color and collaged images, often negotiating between these varied techniques in a small amount of space. Often, these images pose a sort of psychedelia of materials, twisting signifiers of classical counter-culture and iconographies of otherworldly elements into a space that seems to bring the viewer there with him.
In other works, Martin’s gestures and movements get much heavier, and perhaps even blunt, as great strokes and twists of the brush trace movements that not only were clearly designed to apply paint to canvas, but equally to move paint after its application. In Commander Salamander, for instance, a lone brush stroke runs across the canvas after a thick layer of paint had been applied, leaving a textured, almost ridged pattern over a piece of the canvas. In other works, a similarly broad series of gestures create clusters and slurs of color, ultimately drawing the viewer through a series of movements and patterns that always foregrounds the artist’s hand in the work. Yet Martin is equally interested in patterns and repetition, with many works seeing the artist investing himself evenly applied marks and blots of paint that feels united with the other works on view through their similar color palettes. In one particularly striking piece, the artist’s bands of color, bearing a style of application that matches works elsewhere, runs in vertical lines, creating a rainbow of sorts that draws additional energy from the frenetic, measurements of each line.
For Martin, this sense of composition, walking constantly between balance and stylistic collapse, underscores his fascination with, and continued exuberance with the brush. In the works on view, his embrace and reinvention of the line, clustered together or darting through space, only echoes this notion with considerable volume.
— D. Creahan
Chris Martin at Anton Kern [Exhibition Site]