This September, Unit London will present Fathoms an exhibition of new works by London-based painter, Will Martyr. Martyr is known for his vibrant, hyperreal paintings representing dreamlike locations of pleasure and recreation. The title of the show represents a unit of water or a hunger to gain a new sense of
understanding; the viewer is invited to delve deep into these compositions and assimilate.
Martyr trained at the Slade School of Fine Art, The New York Studio Schools and the Royal College of Art. Fathoms follows his debut solo show Wanderlust at Unit London in 2017.
Fathoms is comprised of eight large-scale tondos, the renaissance name for circular works of art, used by Martyr to represent an embracing wholeness and notions of eternity. Martyr’s interest in renaissance paintings is not limited to the shape of the works however, and for this exhibition he has been deeply inspired by the compositions of the early perspective pioneers of the fifteenth century; Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca. Whereas Uccello dramatised his battle scenes with the use of lances and rhythmic use of pattern and colour, Martyr utilises the line of a deckchair or fanning of a parasol to lead the viewer through his compositions. Uccello will depict a fine head garment of the central character to offer a place for the eye to rest. Martyr too offers these breaks in the more playful additions of macarons, inflatable flamingos and parasols.
This exhibition will present new works that continue to depict locations reminiscent of childhood vacations and moments of relaxation. The settings draw parallels with Hockney’s fantasy compositions, set within the prism of a sunny playground, populated with louche-living. For this exhibition, Martyr has explored more communal areas, inviting the viewer to stay and play. In To Love And Be Loved two deck chairs convey the male and female form without any animate figures. The paintings are full of humanity and familiarity, yet the players are missing. This allows the viewer to inhabit these locations, triggering memories and personal moments from their own past. It is this that makes Martyr’s work euphoric, seductive and contemplative at the same time.
Joe Kennedy and Jonny Burt, co-founders of Unit London, said, “Will’s paintings inspire a very personal reaction when you look at them, creating a private reminiscence of playfulness and enjoyment in the viewer. His style is also incredibly precise, and his use luminous use of colour creates a warmth and certainty to life, which is both exhilarating and effortless.”
Martyr’s complex paintings are built from meticulous hand-drawn compositions, masked off and cut to shape using surgical blades before being hand-painted in block colours. At first glance, the paintings are characterised by flat areas of graphic colour, but on closer inspection the layers of paint and raised impasto elements become apparent, signifying Martyr’s scrupulous attention to detail.
This series of new tondos will be accompanied by Martyr’s first ever Neon sculpture. This complex five phase Neon, will be constructed around the shape of a beach parasol gently blowing in the wind.
Will Martyr is an exceptionally talented artist working in extraordinarily precise detail. Trained at the Slade, The New York Studio Schools and the Royal College of Art, each of his stylish canvases require a multiplicity of techniques to accomplish.
Martyr utilises a mixture of his own photography and found imagery to construct complex and organised compositions. These images are edited digitally and then drawn onto the canvas. Each feature is masked off using tape, individual colours are mixed and then painted onto the surface. This painstaking process results in truly immaculate work. The scenes, devoid of human presence, facilitate an exploration of our relationship to our domestic environment. The utopian views depicted in Martyr’s paintings, although formed from found imagery, present a dream-like world far beyond the realms of what exists in reality. The seductive ideals that he conveys through these sleek exteriors empty of human presence and conjuring scenes of privilege, are closely comparable to David Hockney’s paintings of California swimming pools in the 1960s.
Martyr is heavily inspired by the design and architecture of the Bauhaus movement, blurring the line between art and architecture in his paintings. He is also influenced by Futurism and Vorticism, attempting to express the dynamism of the modern world with hard edged imagery that requires an economy of gesture.
U N I T L O N D O N
Unit London remains firmly committed to its core principles that art should be celebrated, inclusive and undivided. Founded in 2013, Unit London was born from an innate desire to break down the barriers of elitism and create new innovative pathways into the contemporary art world, recognised for its pioneering approach to digital media and role in expanding and diversifying audiences using new technologies.
Since its inception, Unit London has strived to provide a unique and experimental platform for the world’s most distinctive emerging talent, showcasing their work to a culturally curious audience across the globe.
Exhibition Will Martyr: Fathoms VIP & Press View Tuesday, 11 September 2018 Private View Thursday, 4 September 2018 Dates 31 August - 29 September 2018