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b. 1979, New Zealand

Martin Basher Biography

New Zealand-American, New York-based contemporary artist Martin Basher enlists the visual languages of advertising and retail in paintings and installations that mimic and investigate capitalist display aesthetics and the unspoken impulses of individual and collective consumption.

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Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Basher moved to Rockland County in New York State with his parents as a teenager. He studied at Columbia University in New York, graduating with a BA in 2003 followed by an MFA in 2008. The scale and volume of American products clearly made an impression on him in his early American years, and since graduation, his practice has focused on the materials and imagery of retail culture.

Martin Basher's trademark abstract and photo-realistic paintings employ the enticing subject matter and seductive colours and tones of commercial imagery. For example, many Basher paintings offer images of sunny beaches similar to those often used in travel agencies or offices as enticing windows of escape from everyday life.

Basher's more abstract works distil the seductive elements of such posters into light and colour that seeps through vertical linear patterns reminiscent of the methods by which these images are displayed in a retail setting. In a number of works featured in his solo exhibition Hawaiian Tropic at Starkwhite, Auckland (2017), a tropical beach sunset is translated into warm orange and yellows leeching between abstract vertical bars.

As Martin Basher explained in an interview with Chris Wiley for Whitewall in 2017, in his more Minimalist paintings he sought to work 'with the beach imagery in an abstract way, to see if I could derive some of the Photoshop perfection of the skies and the color, and the depth and space'. It is that distilled response to evocative commercial images that Basher highlights throughout his work.

Along with his paintings, Basher is known for creating installations that mimic retail displays of consumer goods. Made from commercial materials like Plexiglas, aluminium, mirror film, and fluorescent lights, the sculptures mimic the right-angles and perfect finishes of storefronts, shop windows, and commercial signage.

Confounding the hierarchies of high-brow and low-brow objects, Basher creates contrasts within his complex installations by displaying items like fine liquors and hair-loss ointments together with mouthwash, paintings and drain cleaner. These juxtapositions, too, delve into the psychology of desire and consumption, but in this case in relation to objects.

Basher has exhibited widely in galleries across the United States and New Zealand. He has also engaged in public commissions, including taking part in Total Recall (2011): an exhibition featuring five large-scale sculptures commissioned by the Public Art Fund of New York. Each work exhibited by the five New York-based artists who participated in Total Recall took a unique perspective on the fleeting nature of memory.

Martin Basher Solo Exhibitions include:

Devil at the Gates of Heaven, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland (2017); Peppermint Schnapps, City Gallery Wellington (2014); Package and Handling, Saatchi & Saatchi New York (2012); Paradise Salé, Rockefeller Apartments, New York (2011); The Spectacular Fall, Starkwhite, Auckland (2008); Blackwater, City Gallery Wellington (2006).

Martin Basher Group Exhibitions include:

Im/material: Painting in the Digital Age, Sophia Contemporary Gallery, London (2017); Freedom Farmers, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2013); _The Grand Centur_y, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan (2010); Reality Sandwiches, Artnews Projects, Berlin (2009); The New Academy, Lehman Art Center, North Andover, Massachusetts (2008); Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition, Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (2008).

Michale Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Exhibition view: Martin Basher, Birds of Paradise, Starkwhite, Auckland (13 April–14 May 2021). Courtesy Starkwhite. 

Martin Basher Featured Artworks

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Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2020Oil and acrylic on canvas
79 x 59 inches
Anat Ebgi Contact Gallery
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2020Oil and acrylic on canvas
61 x 44 inches
Anat Ebgi Contact Gallery
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2020Oil and acrylic on canvas
54 x 40 inches
Anat Ebgi Contact Gallery
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2020Oil and acrylic on canvas, framed
40 x 30 inches
Anat Ebgi Contact Gallery
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2019Oil on canvas and aluminium stand
145 x 110 cm
Starkwhite Enquire
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2019Oil on canvas and aluminium stand
145 x 110 cm
Starkwhite Enquire
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitled, 2019Oil on canvas and aluminium stand
145 x 110 cm
Starkwhite Enquire
Untitled by Martin Basher contemporary artwork
Martin BasherUntitledCollage, oil on tape on corrugated card
101 x 75 cm
Starkwhite Enquire

Martin Basher Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Martin Basher, Birds of Paradise at Starkwhite, Auckland
Open Now
13 April–14 May 2021 Martin Basher Birds of Paradise StarkwhiteAuckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Good Company: The Remix at Anat Ebgi, Mid Wilshire, Los Angeles
Closed
6 February–6 March 2021 Group Exhibition Good Company: The Remix Anat EbgiMid Wilshire
Contemporary art exhibition, Martin Basher, Birds of Paradise at AE2, AE2, Los Angeles
Closed
15 September–27 October 2020 Martin Basher Birds of Paradise AE2AE2, Los Angeles

Martin Basher Represented By

Anat Ebgi contemporary art gallery in Culver City, Los Angeles, USA Anat Ebgi Los Angeles
Starkwhite contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand Starkwhite Auckland

Martin Basher In Ocula Magazine

'Freedom Farmers' At The Auckland Art Gallery Ocula Feature 'Freedom Farmers' At The Auckland Art Gallery By Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers, Auckland

Occupying the lion’s share of exhibition space at the Auckland Art Gallery, Freedom Farmers is said to be the museum’s largest survey of contemporary art in the last twenty-five years. Curated by the gallery’s own Natasha Conland, the exhibition looks at how the utopian energy of the 1970s is being artistically deployed in...

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Natasha Conland Ocula Conversation Natasha Conland By Laura Thomson, Auckland

Natasha Conland is Curator, Contemporary Art at the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand. She has curated numerous exhibitions including A Puppet A Pauper A Pirate A Poet A Pawn & A King: From the Naomi Milgrom Art Collection (2013); Made Active: The Chartwell Show (2012); the 4th Auckland Triennial,  Last Ride in a Hot Air...

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Martin Basher In Related Press

Anat Ebgi: Jordan Nassar and Martin Basher Opening Today Related Press Anat Ebgi: Jordan Nassar and Martin Basher Opening Today 1 October 2020, FLAUNT

Anat Ebgi here in Los Angeles is hosting two new art exhibitions at her AE2 location, as well as her namesake art gallery, Anat Ebgi.

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