New York – Saturday, April 4, 2015
Hunt for Inspiration – a recent solo gallery show featuring artwork by Jamie Martinez at the Galerie Protege in Chelsea was incredibly well received in its opening reception. The basement level gallery was buzzing with excited viewers of all kinds. A mixed lot of artists, enthusiasts, collectors, photographers and more talked with excitement while taking iPhone photos of the work – reveling in the unique qualities of the geometric images that emblazon Martinez’s canvases.
The show contains a collection of artwork demonstrating the progression in the artist’s concepts of geometry and abstraction as it develops over time. Early versions of Martinez’s work are actually “abstract fabric artwork” as he describes them, using “abstract digital images that examine the beginning process of my work,” explains Martinez. These early artworks are composed of overlapping triangular pieces of brightly colored fabric that are sewn together on top of a canvas, creating a collage-like conglomeration of textures and shapes, somewhat reminiscent of a quilt, which perhaps alludes to more simplistic and early forms of artwork.
Intermingled amongst some of the earlier fabric pieces are second stage artworks or pieces that are the next phase of evolution in the progression of Martinez’s concept. These second level artworks vary as some are composed of vast fields of tiny triangles creating seas of color and texture, while others are highly complex, featuring a more three dimensional element, as they are larger images composed of hundreds of small painted wooden squares, or tiles, which are affixed together to create a mosaic style, singular large image. From a distance, these vast collections of squares, which are further divided into tiny triangles, begin to come together to illustrate an extremely distorted face.
Next to these paintings are small signs that read, “Use your camera to see the image”. The signs imply that once you photograph the image (or even just use your cameras view finder to look at the work) it is somehow again changed in form. This is a recurring theme in Martinez’s work, and as demonstrated in Hunt for Inspiration, when viewed through a camera, the paintings do indeed look different, and almost become more clear and vivid in digital form.
“The birth of my paintings start with an idea for a series; then I go on the internet and find images that appeal to me and express what I want to communicate in my painting. Once I have the images that are provocative… I focus on how to deconstruct the images using triangles and paint the image so it can only be appreciated when seen through technology.” – Jamie Martinez
This aspect of Martinez’s work creates an intriguing commentary, as it requires the viewer to use a digital interface to experience physical artwork in its most vivid form.
The final phase of artworks in Martinez’ concept depicts further evolved and elaborate images which are again broken down into distorted geometric patterns. These third level paintings are painted directly onto canvas, but in this version the images use a wide variety in scale of triangles, creating tiny clusters of shapes which illustrate a smoother transition in shading and texture. These images portray distorted faces of various animals in both regal and aggressive poses.
“My new paintings deal with the validation of images, our obsession with our smartphones and the relationship between art and technology. When you look at my paintings in person, you don’t see the clear image. Technology validates the images and only through it can you clearly see the details of my work. Then after it’s posted online–it takes a life of its own.” – Jamie Martinez
Hunt for Inspiration provides a provocative look at both the evolution of Jamie Martinez’s work as an artist as well as a highly intriguing commentary on society’s reliance on technology to interface with reality. The images in the show range from simplistic geometry to highly evolved and elaborate compositions which require technology in order to gain a full experience of their contents. The viewer is left with much to contemplate after seeing this show, including the question of which is the real artwork; is it the digital image or the physical painting, and how will this affect the future of art creation and appreciation? Many of these questions are left unanswered, although it is clear that neither the digital image nor the physical painting are complete without the other.
Hunt For Inspiration is currently on display at Galerie Protege, 197 Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, and closes April 23, 2015.