Eugene Martin and Collage
Eugene Martin had always adapted his imagery and stylistic expressions to the materials he had available on hand. When he couldn’t afford any art supplies, he might draw on paper napkins and invent a new hieroglyphic language along the way (Fig. 1), as if the thin sheets suddenly became papyrus. He might cut out earlier works and years later rearrange some of the resulting strips and fragments into a new creation (Fig. 2). Or he might glue one or more entire artworks and photographs directly onto a particular work, resulting in a multi-sourced collage (Fig. 3). In every instance, the additive process altered the original concept of each stand-alone piece and its relation to the collage as a whole. Each individual work in the collage becomes transformative vis-à-vis each other when incorporated in a new context. These multimedia collages, in essence, are chimeric creations: each becomes a single entity of multiple works that originated as distinct separate sources at separate times, with the dynamics of each part and the whole bestowed equal importance. The Multiple (the individual works contributing to the collage) has become One (the entire collage), and conversely, the one wouldn’t exist without its multiple components.
How are we then to date a heterochronic collage? It certainly seems a moot question as it allows for temporal reversals, like when a photograph of a 1995 painting (Fig. 4) becomes part of a “1992 collage” (Fig. 3). Eugene Martin’s art is thus the opposite of stasis; it is transformative at all levels of time and space. It is about freedom, improvisation, bridging, embracing, and uniting the past with the present. In Martin’s art - like for Heraclitus - everything flows, panta rei. This harmonious flux is magisterially expressed in Eugene Martin’s chimeric improvisations in time and space.
Excerpted from “The In-Between in the Art of Eugene Martin” by Suzanne Fredericq. In: “Improvisations in Time: Eugene J. Martin and the Masur Museum of Art”. 2012. Benjamin Hickey, Suzanne Fredericq and Marie Vinouze. Masur Museum of Art Press, 76 pp., ISBN-10:0615-66502-0.