Unit London presents the first major solo exhibition of London-based artist, Will Martyr. Opening this summer, Wanderlust presents twenty new large-scale paintings from the artist’s most recent body of work. Questioning how today’s mass-consumption of imagery affects our perception of reality and notion of personal experience and memory, Martyr’s paintings transport us into an alienated dreamworld of utopian promise.
At once recalling Bauhaus, Surrealism, Futurism, David Hockney, Pop Art and Russian Intourist posters of the 1930s, Martyr’s paintings present hyperreal depictions of infinity pools, postcard-perfect mountains and luxury residences. Seductive yet unsettling, they are reminiscent of the glossy and pristine images of architectural, interior design or holiday magazines. Eerily devoid of human presence, the viewer is free to construct their own version of reality and the story behind the setting. With titles such as I’LL MAKE IT ALRIGHT (2017), BEAUTIFUL WIFE (2017), and EVERYTHING IS GOLDEN (2016) the paintings present the same allure of advertising and branding, inviting the viewer into the painting, yearning to experience the hidden interiors depicted. As we avert our eyes from troubling realities in favour of airbrushed hyper reality, the empty perfection of Martyr’s paintings prompts us to consider the darkness that exists beyond the perfect horizon and either side of the canvas.
Utilising a myriad of photography, found images and personal experiences, Martyr computer generates his images before projecting them onto the canvas. Intensely methodical and precise, he often spends days masking and planning his compositions before carefully choosing the colour combinations to complete the work. While operating within a rigid framework that strives for linear perfection, Martyr manages to conjure profoundly emotional and moving works of art that redefine the aesthetic of painting in the new media age.
W I L L M A R T Y R
Will Martyr (born 1980) lives and works in London. Martyr trained at the Slade, The New York Studio Schools and the Royal College of Art and has exhibited internationally including participating in group shows Warhol to Emerging Generation, Orion Contemporary, London, 2013, Creative Cities Collection, Barbican, London, 2012; and Vorplatzspiele, Bauhaus Dessau, Germany, 2012. Martyr’s work can be found in collections in Beijing, Sharjah, Stockholm, Sydney, London, Athens, LA, Lagos and Mumbai. In 2012 Martyr was awarded the Catlin Art Prize and in 2010 he was invited by the Architectural Association to work on built projects at the Bauhaus, Dessau and Walter Gropius’ Theatrehaus Jena in Dessau, Germany.
U N I T L O N D O N
Founded in 2013 by artists Joe Kennedy and Jonny Burt, Unit London represents the next generation of contemporary and progressive new art and showcases both established and emerging artists from around the world. Driven by a shared belief that art should be presented in a celebratory and inclusive way, Unit London makes innovative use of social media to bring their artists to the widest possible audience. This outward-facing approach is reenacted in the welcoming atmosphere of Unit London’s 4,000 sq. ft gallery space in the heart of Soho.