For his first solo exhibition at Buchmann Galerie, Jason Martin (*1970 Jersey, Channel Islands, UK) presents a group of new works facing the monumental painting Vertigo.
Jason Martin is a painter whose work oscillates along the thin line between painting and sculpture, which the artist has repeatedly fathomed and differentiated finely in various work groups of recent years.
Jason Martin became known to a wider public with his monochrome paintings such as the work Vertigo, which lends its title to the exhibition. Painted in the cinemascopic format 2.2 x 5 metres, Vertigo is one of the painter’s largest pieces. Smooth, gleaming monochrome oil paint, combed onto an aluminium ground in thin layers and gentle waves, traces the painter’s expressive gesture and creates an impression of mobility reminiscent of drapery, landscapes or geological formations. Like a curtain or a veil, the optical impression is located between the viewer and the extremely tense tactile quality of the picture surface. This dialectic of movement and stillness, which is so characteristic of painting, permeates all of Jason Martin’s work. The light models the brushwork, making it appear almost sculptural.
The move from the flat surface into the third dimension with its resulting optical and tactile stimuli is clarified rather differently in the reliefs. In Untitled (Quinacridone Scarlet), 2018, by contrast to Vertigo or Ruholla, it is not the light reflex that generates the spatial impression; rather, the paste-like application of the paint itself becomes three-dimensional. The rough red colour pigments of the picture surface absorb all the light. The materiality of the paint is also addressed: Vertigo and Ruholla are identifiable as oil paintings, but in the case of Untitled (Quinacridone Scarlet) the powdery surface permits no unambiguous definition of material, meaning that the colour itself becomes a carrier of meaning.
Complex methods of applying paint serve the artist as a means by which to ruminate on the question of illusion and the rhetoric of paint application. Painting is also a performative act for Jason Martin, and the crossing of the boundary from painting into sculpture is a possible way of subjecting the genre of painting to fresh evaluation.
For the first time, the artist’s diverse work to date is supplemented by works made from cast bronze and nickel silver. The painterly gesture, the brush stroke, the trace of his hand in the paint, are accentuated in these reliefs and subjected to the ultimate test. In Tondo, 150 cm, 2018 the sweep of the scraper, the fleeting traces of the hand in the body of paint are fixed by the fluid metal and surrendered to a possible eternity. First the paint and then the metal become transitory materials, changing their aggregate state between liquid and solid.
These works open up a broad field of association, from the ecstasies of the Baroque to the earth’s volcanic eruptions. Already in antiquity, tondo highlighted the dignity and distance of what was depicted, so generating concentration.
In an interview with Luca Massimo Barbero, Jason Martin spoke of a cryogenic stillness, an aspect of freezing, which characterizes the relief works. One could transfer this frozen quality to the blind spot of modernism: to the fact that only through an analytical reduction of means can the illusion and the play with meaning begin.
Works by Jason Martin are represented in a number in many important private and public collections, incl. in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, USA, the Sprengel Museum, Hanover, the Schaufler Collection in Sindelfingen, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in Vienna.