For his third exhibition at the Anton Kern Gallery, Chris Martin presents a number of new, large-scale paintings, inspired by the gallery’s two-story atrium and the artist’s new upstate painting studio.
Chris Martin is a New York institution. His Brooklyn studio floor radiates with years of glitter traces and paint stains. Martin approaches every canvas with a deep knowledge and respect of the medium’s history. Every stroke is an acknowledgment of the tradition and his place within in it. There is a sense of joy in his work; particularly in the glitter pieces. Martin loves painting and wants you to love painting, too. He balances the glitter against vibrant fields of color, collaged images, and fearless gestures. There is a physical practicality to this approach, and Martin uses his whole body when making work. He can often be found literally in the painting—stepping onto the canvas and working on the surface from within it. It’s not uncommon for traces of his shoe-prints to appear.
This freewheeling enthusiasm is derived, in part, from the artist’s connection to the musical counterculture of the 1970s. A young, upside-down Bob Dylan appears in one large painting, floating and grooving in a cosmic skyscape. There is also an undeniably mystical element to the paintings. The planets, musicians, and mind-altering substances that populate the surfaces of his work allude to the human search for spirituality. Glitter itself embodies the reflective nature of the mirrored surface, a popular element in religious traditions across the world. In another painting, an Egyptian god appears on gold leaf (the first time Martin has used this material); suggesting a kind of universal spiritual connection throughout place and time. The work is also grounded in reference to landscape, and the organic quality of Martin’s imagery and brushstrokes can be traced to his connection with nature. Though Martin has become an integral and longtime fixture among New York artists, he has a 40-year long relationship with the Catskill mountains, where he has been spending summers since childhood, and now has a second studio. His painted gestures suggest the mountain roads, and invoke physical and even cosmic expanses.
This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the release of a new major monograph, Chris Martin: Paintings. The book was published by Skira in conjunction with Anton Kern Gallery and David Kordansky Gallery. It features essays by Trinie Dalton, Glenn O’Brien and Nancy Princenthal and 170 full-color illustrations spanning over 40 years of the artist’s career. The artist will be signing books during the opening reception.