Easy Ride, 2019
Silkscreen ink, oil paint, enamel, and spray paint on canvas
191 x 244 x 4 cm.
Photo: Stan Narten / JSP Art Photography
© Eddie Martinez.
Courtesy of the artist, Perrotin, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
Eddie Martinez is a Brooklyn-based artist whose poignant approach to painting combines figuration with abstraction, using various combinations of media—oil, enamel, spray paint, leaves, thumbtacks, baby wipes—to introduce texture imparting his candid and uninhibited creative process.
Unlike many artists for whom drawing is a preliminary act, Martinez sees drawing as the creative exercise pervading his oeuvre, a testament to his incessant drawing habit. In many of his paintings, Martinez enlarges and silkscreens his drawings onto canvas, bringing in further layers of life with an inimitable palette of colors.
Martinez’s sculptures translate his exploration of line, composition, and color into three dimensions. Made from prosaic found objects cast in bronze, the sculptures find reference in assemblage and the readymade, denoting his playful study of physical matter and material culture.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) is currently also holding a solo exhibition of the artist, on view until August 18, 2019.
“Eddie’s work began with the head. It stared back at you and winked. It was always the subject. And then, suddenly the head was gone. For eight years, Eddie refused his characters. Too many people in this world already. Too many eyes on us. Instead, he swam in his private environment of abstraction, a colorful garden of the unknown. And yet, if you knew where to look, you could sometimes see a head, hiding in the weeds or buried beneath the dirt.
I’m talking with Eddie on the phone, sorting this new work out. I keep saying ‘smorgasbord.’ He half-agrees in one of his small humming vocables. Each painting is a full meal. I keep thinking of his feast painting from nine years ago. But this isn’t a body of work, he tells me. This is a key.
A drawing can decode the past. It isn’t only preparation. A study, yes, but of what has already come. Make the mess, then assess. This is how to achieve unthinkingness. Paintings lead to drawings lead to paintings lead to drawings. In this way, drawings are not simply studies of individual pictures, but of an entire the vocabulary of shapes—beak, flower, clover. The whole ecosystem.
I skip over to Instagram and spot one of Eddie’s new bronzes. I write him a note about it and we float emojis back and forth: the crying one, the shocked one, the cool one, the sick one. The language of heads.
Painting is an atemporal medium, but it contains time in its techniques: silkscreens, white-outs, black and whites, abstractions, heads. Each one has its time and place in the Martinez timeline. But collage them together and you’ve compressed time, subverted the clean, false narrative of development.
And then, without warning, an eye opens. It peers out at us from somewhere deep in a soup of color. Then another. Then a mouth. Then a contour emerges from the shadows and soon we find the heads have returned, floating free of bodies, like somber gods. They rise to the surface, as if they’d finally been released from a deep sleep at the bottom of the deep ocean. They’re here, among us, and you can’t take your eyes off them.”
–Ross Simonini (May 2019)