Suzanne Hudson on Cameron Martin’s new work
A DECADE AGO, painter Cameron Martin deserted full-bleed compositions and the “inherent illusionism” (as he defined it on the time) of motifs that unfold edge to edge throughout the assist. He started to bracket chosen particulars of his supply photos—pure environments appropriated from discovered images and his personal snapshots—inside more and more emphatic framing units. The work stay recognizable as landscapes, if mediated by redoubled borders and geometric overlays. Their blanched geographies, rendered in grey scale, are cropped, as if to emphasise the style’s ever-encroaching gaze, its wanton ambition for visible if not precise possession. By 2014, he’d begun working with out sources, centering the conventions of picturing with out recourse to the nominal content material of peaks and vistas, defoliated bushes and parched earth. He maintained a standardized measurement of twenty by sixteen inches for these now-vertical, hard-edge abstractions, to make it simpler for viewers to understand the variability of works whose shared working ideas might need been anticipated to provide redundancies. Factureless regardless of Martin’s concerned and sometimes recursive guide strategies of stenciling, spraying, and sanding, they conjure the aesthetic results of screens; in addition they share high-key, unnameable colours, redolent of the digital interfaces that occasioned in addition to produced them.
A brand new sequence of larger-scale canvases, a collection of which can go on view on April 14 at New York’s Sikkema Jenkins, extends Martin’s palette of terrifically particular synthetic brightness. The artist likewise has additional developed his course of, introducing intricate procedural loops that contradict the notion that gesture is vital to expressivity, even whereas protecting maintain of the handmade. He renders on the pc after which makes use of ever extra complicated stencils to switch drawings to the canvas; layers of impossibly skinny floor accumulate and seem printed, however they aren’t. Their acrylics are misted and troweled and sometimes utilized by brush. The shift in dimensions (these works vary from twenty by sixteen inches to eighty-five by sixty-eight inches) has intensified the work’ optical flicker, for a form of psychedelic moiré impact. Shapes and patterns appear to own a lenticular mutability.
These work bespeak a need for that means regardless of themselves.
The bigger scale has moreover, and maybe considerably paradoxically given the literal amplification of perceptual cuing, instigated a stronger sense of the works’ personal materials register and, by extension, of all of the methods by which digital expertise isn’t purely digital, however somewhat is ineluctably certain up with embodiment and the bodily world. It isn’t simply that the works are greater. They’re heuristics elucidating the properties of algorithmic features and the way outputs shift based on variables, precise measurement being certainly one of them. They manifest an “asymptotic disposition in direction of language, [and] additionally to appropriation,” as Martin put it lately. Maybe it’s not shocking that he reaches for the conceptual vocabulary of pc science, modeling its descriptive insights within the imaging of restrict habits underneath essentially changeable situations.
In Sunblind, 2021, black marks arc atop a citrus-yellow pegboard-like subject and round apertures that open onto white and pale pink; orange and black ribbons dance on some indeterminate aircraft amongst these components. Of their exaggerated curvature, the ribbons categorical one thing like dimensionality keyed to motion, now arrested however possibly poised to renew. The triptych Deluge, 2021, complicates these inner spatial relations—this dramatization of opening into phenomenal atmosphere and recessing into intangible depth, of extending and being contained—by separating 4 ribbons (these in shades of blue and turquoise) into a number of panels. Martin connects exercise throughout them, broaching problems with the way to mediate the edge of helps which can be ideological in addition to materials controls. In Harbinger, 2021, the articulated stroke types a focal calligraphy. The meandering tracery averts collision with the sting besides in a single part at left, the place it parallels and slides down the border erected by a skinny purple rectangle that outlines the scene; it exaggerates as a substitute of checks the implausibility of a pictorial house by which willfully misaligned types seep off register, making it that rather more tough to map its association onto a coherent Euclidean framework.
Like a few of Martin’s different imagery—spheres, or what look like gel filters, or a stylized basket weave—these ribbonlike strokes method reference. They allude not solely to AbEx but in addition to different artists, from Roy Lichtenstein to Christopher Wool, who’ve questioned the fable of autographic articulacy encoded within the modernist gesture. Taken collectively, the work bespeak a need for that means regardless of themselves. They present important relationships, some responsive and others aloof, components unconcerned with others—and none essentially asserting precedence. Reasonably, all stay resolutely antihierarchical, and possibly antiteleological, too, in acknowledging the simultaneity of reference as an analogue for different kinds of risk. Writing of the cultural historical past of what she names the “digital window,” media theorist Anne Friedberg factors out that the shifting picture that had the display all to itself—a latter-day model of Vasari’s plenitude—was ubiquitous till the overlapping planes of the pc show. This has implications for the topic’s place, not mounted or decided however however assumed. For Martin, there’s a generosity to this logic, compensatory although it could be.
“Cameron Martin” opens April 14 at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
Suzanne Hudson is an affiliate professor of artwork historical past and high quality arts on the College of Southern California.