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2023 New Editions: Cameron Martin

Posted on May 11, 2023 in News

For fifteen years, Cameron Martin painted highly produced landscapes in restrained color palettes. The later paintings from this era include multiple borders, geometric overlays, and assertive framing devices that indicate that the act of representation was not the primary intention of the work. Rather, Martin was examining various conventions of picturing. Just as he had limited and boxed in the landscapes in his paintings, at a certain point he began to feel that he was reaching the end of possibilities for that work. In 2014, he established a new set of parameters in which to work that differed drastically from how he had been approaching his painting practice previously. He did away with source material. At the outset, he was not to have a plan or expected outcome for the image. Color and play were to take center stage. And each composition was to follow its own internal logic; seriality was no longer a preoccupation.

Although developed in a way that felt utterly opposite to how Martin had been working for years, the resulting non-objective paintings, and these six new prints that he created in the Tandem Press studio, lean into an artistic approach that is not new for him. The act of representation took precedence over the representation itself. Instead of making abstractions, Martin found he was creating images of abstraction. Layers of shapes, patterns, and linework dominate the compositions and form relationships as they fall into the distinct foreground, middle ground, and background spaces.

The images read as screens, containers for information, or illusions of animated space. They present an ambiguous space of representation where shapes and forms reminiscent of recognizable signs or symbols—visual elements we are used to encountering as disseminators of information—have been refigured into what Martin calls “almost signs.” Even though they carry a level of familiarity, they do not reference anything specific. The deliberate ambiguity of the work incites intrigue and close observation, which is rewarded by the subtleties Martin incorporates within the layers. Shadow-like repetition of shapes, reversals between positive and negative space, and sensitive linework add richness and complexity to these compositions, which can appear deceptively straightforward at first glance.

An element that reoccurs throughout these prints is what Martin has referred to as a “potential for aperture.” These openings or gaps that emerge in the middle ground of Aggregate and Hover, the background of Derivation, and the foreground of Partial Double present windows through which information may be passed in environments that otherwise feel sealed and contained. Those openings, considered in context to the “almost signs” that share the same space, nod to all the possibilities presented by these works. They expand the theoretical discussion surrounding representation to contemplate the political effects of abstraction.

Although these pictures depict what feel like complete thoughts, as the floating forms pose as if steadfast objects or figures occupying a space, Martin considers paintings and prints as inherently fragmented. An edge is a device that automatically makes a thing partial. The edges in these works—not only the edges of the image or where the paper ends, but also the edges of the shapes within these pieces—must be carefully considered as additional points of information. They question what has been left out just as much as they present what has been included. The dichotomies created by Martin’s edges or apertures—of what these pieces are and what they are not—also relate to how he makes the work. Martin draws out elements of the images digitally before transferring them to his painting support. Still, it is within the actual painting process where chance and additional aspects of play impact the trajectory of the image-making process. By applying paint to his supports in very thin layers, often by spraying through elaborate stencils, Martin produces paintings with surfaces that are so smooth and slick that viewers often mistakenly think that they were printed. These surfaces echo the technical aesthetic of the images, but they also conceal Martin’s hands-on approach to his image production. The photo-based screen printing and relief printmaking processes chosen to produce these six new prints continue this complex relationship between handmade, mechanical, and digital modes of creation.

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Cameron Martin, Aggregate, 2023

Cameron Martin, Aggregate, 2023.
Screen print on Somerset Satin Radiant White. Edition of 24. 37 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches.
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Cameron Martin, Derivation, 2023

Cameron Martin, Derivation, 2023.
Screen print on Somerset Satin Radiant White. Edition of 24. 37 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches.
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Cameron Martin, Participle, 2023

Cameron Martin, Participle, 2023.
Screen print on Somerset Satin Radiant White. Edition of 24. 37 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches.
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Cameron Martin, Partial Double, 2023

Cameron Martin, Partial Double, 2023.
Intaglio on Somerset Satin White. Edition of 24. 29 x 24 inches.
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Cameron Martin, Fissure, 2023

Cameron Martin, Fissure, 2023.
Relief on Somerset Book mounted to Somerset Textured White. Edition of 15. 22 1/4 x 17 3/4 inches.
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Cameron Martin, Hover, 2023

Cameron Martin, Hover, 2023.
Relief on Somerset Book mounted to Somerset Textured White. Edition 15. 22 1/4 x 17 3/4 inches.
Click to view.


Click here to view all available works by Cameron Martin.