Lot 068 Ravenel Autumn Auction 2020
EDDIE MARTINEZ (American, 1977)
Oil, acrylic, silkscreen, ink, enamel and spray paint on canvas
182.8 x 274.3 cm
Timothy Taylor, London
Private collection, Asia
He recalls how he became focused again on graffiti art after moving to San Diego, California in 1992 at age 15 when he was in the ninth grade. In the beginning, he did nothing more than replicating comic characters such as Calvin and Hobbes, the Simpsons, Punisher, and Wolverine. Passionate about the free style with abandon in graffiti writing and painting. After all, guerilla-style street graffiti is illegal and the youthful energetic exploits and adventure cannot last forever. Martinez described it as, even those who love skateboarding would not risk neck-breaking sacrifices to the end.
Martinez attended two art schools when he was young, including one year at the Art Institute of Boston, though he never completed his studies. He was once regretful about his inability to establish some structure in life, but the problem eventually solved itself as he became the target of admiration by students at his alma mater 10 years later. Martinez is a self-taught artist who has his own ideas about graffiti art. He admits to being easily affected by the surrounding environment, often noticing marks left on street side buildings. He creates according to instinct, without the need for precision. Creative work based on impulse and freedom is a luxury he would never abandon.
Even though he does not come from an academic background, the art of Martinez comes with its own context. Inspired by popular culture, his early works tend to contain violent imagery of a crazy comics style repeatedly featuring figures with big shiny eyes, animals, clowns, skulls, resembling impromptu graffiti wall painting that is also a microcosm of the culture of the metropolis. His style gradually transformed into abstract paintings at a later stage. Art critics believe that his art belongs to the street art and the style of collage may be traced back to the traditional classics in the 1950's, is similar to a mix-and-match of pop art, performance art, abstract expressionism and the art of CoBra.
In some aspects, Martinez's creative spirit and intentions are closer to the CoBra group. He admires CoBra artists such as Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, and Pierre Alechinsky, and loves the creative process of CoBra group members, which exhibits a sense of speed, autonomy and abandonment of control, in the presentation of large-scale children's style graffiti. The New York Times once described his art as "reviving styles of the Cobra painters".
Martinez rejects comparison of his art to that of Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, or Jean-Michel Basquiat. If he had to define his style, he would describe it as "Messy explosions of Picassos ". He admires Picasso's high productivity, and courage to experiment with various media challenging the historical paintings. Picasso often relied on the same images and composition to come up with new paintings, which gives Martinez confidence to use this method. He would use the same composition and come up with new ideas for alteration before completing the paintings quickly. He claims to enjoy more freedom than Picasso with no formula, so messy that it explodes.
The essence of Martinez's creativity is rooted in the play and variation of free-hand drawing. He carries markers and a Moleskine sketchbook so he can record his inspirations whenever they appear. The classic style of Moleskine notebooks is also the favorite of writer Hemingway, as well as painters Van Gogh and Picasso, who use it to capture momentary imaginations. For most artists, drawing on paper is a type of exercise that often becomes a prelude to a work of art. For Martinez, however, sketching is his habit and the main focus of his creativity. He draws not only inside his studio, but also at home and while he travels, where drawing becomes a tool to take notes and write journals. Afterwards, he would takes his sketchbook drawings and put them up on the walls of his studio, transforming a little drawing into a large painting or even pasting directly onto the canvas to imbue the spiritual content and feeling of the sketch onto the larger canvas. The pure thought of painting and instinctive sketching leave his work free of strong social or political criticism.
Applying whatever is on hand, all things may become part of his paintings regardless of the material. Martinez has included random objects in life in his collages, including oil paint, spray paint, glaze, baby wipes, pizza boxes, or tennis balls. He has also printed onto the canvas with enlargement of silkscreening, put on or scrap away colors. Just like children making marks in life, painting is in his daily life, is a record of living, and is a concept of "mix and match" in contemporary culture. Martinez began incorporating silkscreen printing into his artworks in 2015. This innovative print technique lets the artist translate and enlarge his drawings and sketches to produce richer ideas and images. The artwork, Untitled, to be auctioned is a mixed media masterpiece demonstrating the artist’s brilliant painting technique and authentic inspiration. "Each painting is a feast ", that's how American artist and writer Ross Simonini describes the works of Martinez. For more than a decade, Martinez continued to challenge himself in art presentations, which could be a repetitive research of looking through a single composition without indulging in the same style. His bountiful creativity always amazes just like Picasso. Each one of his works is like an island of painting, or a garbage dump that carries the commonalities of contemporary culture while sharing the artist's self-identity, contemplation symbols and the accumulation of life experience. (Excerpt ‘Art & Investment’ column from Ravenel quarterly No. 32)
Select: Modern & Contemporary Art
Ravenel Autumn Auction 2020
Saturday, December 5, 2020, 12:00am