'To suggest is to create; to describe is to destroy.'
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea is pleased to present Tropicalissimo, the new solo show by British artist Jason Martin. Four years after his last exhibition in these spaces, Martin returns with a whole new body of works created during the lockdown period, which has conceded with a phase of great inspiration.
Such inspiration comes directly from a Brazilian artistic movement called Trópicalia, which emerged in the 1960s, merging Brazilian and African rythms with British and American psychedelia. The artist appropriated then the word 'Trópicalia' with the Italian word 'bellissimo', thus the title of the exhibition.
The colour references and the compositions of the artworks on display suggest not really a feeling of nostalgia, but rather a current and classic redux. The pictorial spaces are sometimes suggestive of landscapes, or temporal lights: this has furthered the artist's research and play with figurative depth or the illusion of a pictorial space in juxtaposition with a flat didactic abstraction.
The period of lockdown has turned out to be a moment of relaxation and unselfconsciousness, during which the artist has responded more to the landscape and an exaggerated emptiness of the human being. The work here are not conceived as a whole, but they may be considered as a frame or a snapshot of the work of the artist over a period. Martin explores different media and different themes. The spaces explored are thresholds.
In abstraction, there are always elements of figuration: vertical and horizontal gain equality in practice. Elemental references (earth, wind, fire, ice, mist etc.) are for Jason Martin always integral to the life autonomy of any work.
Jason Martin (Channel Islands, 1970), channels a minimal approach to painting through an extensive yet controlled use of color, brush and medium. Working in pigment, acrylic, oil paint, graphite and cast metal, Martin interrogates the fundamentals of painting, veering from epic and luscious compositions of swirling forms to pared-down and muted abstractions in precisely blended tones. Structered according to the harmonic relationships between these hues, the paintings manifest as parallel strata, their horizons exploring suggestions of landscape and atmosphere through the viscosity of oil or the granular texture of other material added to the paint. Albeit with the occasional intervention of chance, moments of happenstance and the unexpected whirl of chaos, this process is repeated, sweeping gestures has been honed over the years since Martin attended Goldsmiths College in London in the early 1990s. These early works saw Martin dragging skeins of oil or acrylic gel across such as aluminium, stainless steel or Plexiglas with a fine, comb-like tool.
Martin also does away with paint altogether in his wall-mounted casts of gold, rose gold and silver, whose surfaces are unctuous but frozen - fluctuating between sculpture and painting. In monochromatic, pure pigment works, vivid colour is applied to moulded panels, whose baroque contortions appear like extreme close-ups of a painter's ridged and furrowed palette. Uniting his practice is an attempt to further the language of abstraction through discrete and measured interventions, which both disrupt and activate the surfaces and spaces he inhabits.
Jason Martin lives and works between London and Portugal. He has a BA from Goldsmiths, London (1993). Solo exhibitions include Thaddeus Ropac, France (2018); Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea, Milan, Italy (2017); Museum Gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, Germany (2016); Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy (2009); Es Baluard Museu d'Art Modern i Contemporary de Palma, Majorca, Spain (2008); Kunstverein Kreis Gutersloh, Germany (2007); and Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga, Spain (2005).
Press release courtesy Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea.