I’ve Just Seen A Face

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Aug 26, 2021 9:11PM

For artists America Martin and Martin Adalian, the emphasis of their figurative work is placed on an investigation of humanity, legacy through an adaptation of traditional portraiture. Drawing inspiration from historical sources, the faces found throughout their work prioritize personality and sentiment over precision and in some cases, over identification.

When it comes to portraiture, there is much more at stake than just capturing a likeness. Before photography, portraits were the only means available for those who could afford it to preserve an individual’s visual record, and in Western culture, they were utilized as a political tool to both bolster the public image of the aristocracy as well as conduct delicate matters of courtship and marriage. The earliest portraits followed idealized artistic conventions, the extent of which are difficult to assess seeing as such portraits are often the only remaining record of the individual presented. Numerous traditions of portraiture flourished over time, most notably in Ancient Greece and Rome where portrait busts often depicted individual likenesses to an exacting degree.

For artists America Martin and Martin Adalian, the emphasis of their figurative work is placed on an investigation of humanity, legacy through an adaptation of traditional portraiture. Drawing inspiration from historical sources, the faces found throughout their work prioritize personality and sentiment over precision and in some cases, over identification.

America Martin
Daisy, 2021
JoAnne Artman Gallery

Freehandedly and unapologetically capturing her subjects, America Martin’s compositions are a personal reflection of the human experience and condition. In Seeing America, Martin examines the impact of activism and heroism. In a bold statement that champions everyday kindnesses and small, sustained steps toward change, her I See Heroes Everywhere Series includes legends of the past and present, as well as unsung figures. Rendered in streamlined ink drawings, each portrait is emblematic of both passion and initiative. Pairing a quote with each likeness, Martin implores visitors to consider the core values of leadership embodied in the series—justice, integrity, empathy, and a call to action.

Also featuring a selection of oil and acrylic paintings that do not directly correspond to a particular individual, Martin’s other figurative works communicate a gentleness. The nude figures pose serenely among floral motifs and in another, a bird in flight. Color blocked and outlined with bold swaths of black and tan, the figures prioritize storytelling and emotion over realistic portraiture.

America Martin
Yellow Message Bird With Good Tidings (Triptych), 2021
JoAnne Artman Gallery

America Martin, I See Heroes Everywhere Series, Ink on Paper, Available Individually

Martin Adalian incorporates contemporary styles with the iconography of European art history. Inspired by the Vatican museum’s ancient portraits of Caesars, philosophers, slaves, and proletariats from the Roman Empire, Adalian concluded that people’s faces do not change, and that modern faces are in actuality, very ancient. Forging a connection between modern art and classical, his recreations prioritize the commonalities of mankind and the continuity of life and tradition rather than identifiable depictions.

Martin Adalian
Baroness, 2021
JoAnne Artman Gallery
Martin Adalian
Tears of Tar, 2021
JoAnne Artman Gallery

Embracing the concept of disintegration, his canvases are punctuated with tears and lacerations, exposing stretcher bars and distorting aspects of the portrait to echo the damaged works of the Vatican’s collection. Mimicking the distressed appearances of the ancient works and their occasional missing facial features, embellishments of tar and acrylic impasto create a multi-dimensional and multi-textual effect. Maintaining a color palette of rich earth tones and dramatic lighting, the application of thick swaths of paint and tar is concurrently spontaneous and strategic- establishing focal points and redirecting the viewer to areas of elaborate detail. Boldly emphasizing the physicality of his mark making process, Adalian further breaches the boundaries of the conventional modes of portraiture.

The painted portrait is a both a storied tradition as well as an important part of our current cultural heritage. It not only represents our own history in the making, it captures a likeness in a way that photography cannot. Through the relationship between artist and subject, in an image that is created in numerous sessions over an extended period of time, the portrait provides a perspective that extends beyond representation.

On View by Appointment at JoAnne Artman Gallery!

JoAnne Artman Gallery 326 + 346 N Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 | 511A West 22nd St. New York, NY 10011 Telephone: 949-510-5481 | E-mail: [email protected] Website: www.joanneartmangallery.com

JoAnne Artman Gallery
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019