Gregory Martin

Artist Statement
 
Gregory Martin
 
 
Although my paintings are most easily categorized as landscapes, I think of them as contemplative spaces in which to experience dualities and polarities within human nature, the natural world and the practice of painting. For instance; growth and decay, the illusion of depth and flatness, the “truth” of  photography and the “fiction” of painting, the differences  between our ideals and our actions.
 
I use somewhat flat skies and backgrounds with a closely grouped color and value range not only to achieve an atmospheric depth and push/pull with the foreground elements but also with an eye towards achieving the sort of meditative space that color field painting can have. The foreground elements are handled in a more gestural way exploring the surrogate potential of plants and artifacts that at turns could suggest portraiture, narratives or gestural abstraction.
 
I like to think of the scenes I depict as getting at a sort of collective unconscious as they are the spaces in between our destinations, in between nature and civilization, a view of the sordid artifacts of our backyard activities, before we’ve had a chance to pick up and present a crafted image of ourselves to our guests, revealing things  about ourselves that we are not comfortable with. Quite often our actions are revealed to be at odds with our ideals. The genre of landscape painting has a history of expressing a romanticized view of our relationship to nature, beauty, and spirituality that I embrace as a counterweight to the banality and degradation present in these views of our contemporary environment. The POV is that of the transitory, comfortably detached and sometimes meditative space of the automobile. Cycles of growth and decay are evident in both nature and in the artifacts of human activity present in the scenes.
 
I make sculptural objects to give life to ideas that seem to me to be too overtly surreal to work in the paintings and to further explore the relationship between flatness, implied depth and three dimensional space. They take on some of the same gestural surrogate characteristics as the foreground elements in the paintings can have and are often installed with a large spare painting as a backdrop in the fashion of a diorama. I like to think of how plant forms might adopt to survive and prosper in a landscape that is populated and shaped by human beings. As much science fiction as science and as much theatrical stage set as diorama. I don’t mind that the foreground elements in the paintings and the sculptural objects in the room can take on heroic, pathetic or even melodramatic roles as I see a corollary to the ability to laugh at how seriously we take ourselves and our foibles as a part of the process of growth, This humorous aspect can serve as a useful counterweight to the subject matter which at times implicates us as a culture whose actions are out of sync with the ideals that we project.