Light, Space, and Acrylics
It is difficult to describe the art of Christopher Martin – one has to see it in all its largeness and boldness – and then to have it affixed firmly in a perfect spot to view it in its splendid contemporary dimensions.
By: E.J. Webber
Bigness and boldness are not the only two words that describe Christopher Martin’s canvasses. Consider the 30 to 80 layers or cycles of paint applied reversely onto the back of acrylic panels that can measure up to 8 feet by 8 feet – in which case patience and vision are two other words that fit the passion that Martin has for his creations.
When he isn’t travelling to shows and assisting with gallery openings, one can find him in Aspen working on new aspects of the technique he calls Organic Expressionism – a form of painting that comes from his deep love of nature expressed by incorporating metallic and iridescent pigments that play with - and off - light. “I start with a vision of the painting that I want to create, then formulate a plan of action to deposit the layers in the right order and have to form a mental idea of what the layers are doing since I am not checking the composition from the front. In honed works there is a diffusion of the light and somewhat of a diamond effect that traps the light inside the acrylic surface.”
Sushni, Acrylic on Honed Acrylic, 96 x 96 in.
Trapping this light allows it to bounce inside the acrylic canvas and where the darker areas exist, a more velvet finish is created - while in the lighter spaces however - the metallic parts radiate with a spectacular pigmentation giving the painting an encaustic look. Arende, one of Martin’s latest compositions, was inspired by the movement of particles when activated by a force, in this case, snow falling during a storm. Selenite, another piece inspired by winter snows, is about a continuous line and form that is connected by one focal point; very much like life with all its twists and turns, yet always connecting to who we are.
Martin’s intense use of materials and tonalities encourages the viewer’s participation and he delights in his works getting a reaction. The large piece from his Arc and Luna series entitled Sushni, features abstractions inspired by snow crystals, coral formations, and other rich fluid details inspired by river beds. The subtleness of the art belies the scale, very much like the sky in winter reminds us that water bearing gray clouds wait to be transformed into snow crystals.
Drako, Acrylic on Acrylic, 96 x 96 in.
Being introspective, but wanting to discover himself as well in the various mediums he applies his artistic skills to, the geometric substructures that are the basis of nature in all her glory, brings out the best within Martin, the artist. Whether it is reverse painting, honed surface work that produces an effect very much like colors being etched onto the surface, or working on canvas and linen surfaces – every surface contributes to the experience of the paintings. “My works are bought by seasoned art collectors, as well as Generation X and Millennials who admire natural abstractions primarily for residential settings,” explained Martin. He has also created large scale commissioned works for corporate collections in a variety of industries from banking to aviation, and from fitness to sports.
“What I enjoy is painting in large scale,” he says about the piece called Drako that is a diptych (two hinged panels that close the painting) 8 feet by 8 feet; “It is a very fluid piece with lots of brushstrokes akin to Japanese calligraphy. Drako represents a balance of energies – it abstracts the relationship between two entangled elements and how they influence one another.” Interestingly enough, Martin released some of his paintings as limited edition works and Drako is part of that collection and is available in a variety of dimensions for those interested in a smaller scale of composition. He only releases 20 pieces in the edition and sizes range from 4 to 8 feet square.
For his part, art is not the only dimension to focus on. Martin’s charity work for his Kidz Creations is alive and well, and as we spoke, there were six children on their way to his Dallas Gallery to paint with him. The children range from five to eight years old and
each is afflicted with cancer. When he is at home in Aspen, he also raises funds for the Aspen Animal Shelter through his Hearts for Hounds program – a program where he paints small hearts for Valentine’s Day. “We just completed our 6th year and have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the No Kill Shelter. I am a softie for kids and animals!”
A detailed written study of his work was published last year and is presented in a beautiful book called Twenty Years. The foreword by Johnny Sampson says it all: “Bold yet meditative, dynamic yet serene, the works of Christopher H. Martin harness the passions and intricate subtleties of Nature.” Twenty years of large acrylic paintings that veritably glow with spirit are his signature and testimony as an artist; an artist that gives us the pleasure of viewing the astonishing work, and gives him the pleasure of articulating the fantastic transformation of space.
For further information and purchase contact:
Christopher Martin Gallery | Dallas | Aspen | Santa Fe
1533 Dragon Street | Dallas, TX | 75207 | 214.760.1775