Overlaying his early research in the field of painting with later studies in the mechanics of sound, artist Leigh Martin works with self-prescribed rhythmic frameworks to draw out the minutiae of painterly effects. Using controlled, repetitive motions to pull paint across dense paper surfaces, Martin works to catch the minum in the grain that emerges through the relationship between both substances. Levelling the activity of artistic intervention to an even partnership between human actor and material elements, the residual sense of motion implied by Martin's restrained gestural palette rests in the surface of each work with sustained vibrancy.
This trailing impression of gesture, of weight and action embeded in the fabric substrate of the artwork, lends Martin's work a sensate quality that coalesces around notions of tone and duration. Viewers familiar with expanded sound practices, and in particular those influenced by post-minimalism, may easily grasp the analogy posited by Martin here between finely-tuned fluctuations of electronic drone texture and the slow-developing image plane. Such a framework invites an equally slow and detailed viewing experience, drawing the eye into a soft circular pulse that shifts between registers of seeing and sensing. The emphasis thus, is on an experience of depth, on an immersion in wave-like signals passing between body of work and the body of the viewer.
Mass² speaks to the accumulation of density in such experiences, and to the cumulative viewing effect when encountering these works in series. This is long player viewing perhaps, in which the perceivable horizon is forsaken in exchange for a pleasurable expansion of the sensible present. It is to this effect that Martin positions the emanations of each surface as a form of tonal charge, one that might interrupt the otherwise smooth signals of the gallery's interior architecture. Worked to its finest edge, each image resonates with granular singularity. In series, a subtle and gradated drone emerges through the room.
Leigh Martin (Te Āti Haunui a Pāpārangi, Uenuku) is a New Zealand-based painter who lives and works between Auckland, New Zealand and Karlsruhe, Germany. Martin studied for a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Glasgow School of Fine Art, Glasgow, Scotland (1991-1993) where he received the Christies Prize (1993) Armour Prize (1993) and the Cargill Scholarship (1993) before completing a Masters of Fine Art (first-class honours) at Auckland Institute of Technology (2013). Since returning to New Zealand, Martin has held various lecturing positions between AUT, Elam and Unitec. He has exhibited throughout New Zealand and internationally and his work is held in significant collections including Christchurch city Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and the James Wallace Collection.
Press release courtesy Two Rooms.