Works Gallery
Artist Information

New American Landscapes and Portraits

Patrick Martinez

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 6:00pm – 9:00pm Exhibition Dates: September 16th – October 7th, 2017

Patchy streaks from a crusty roller are adhered to a viscous stucco, temporarily obscuring scrawls left behind–this immediate and indecisive effort of removal only serving to emphasize the meanderings of the original mark. Nestled to the side are cleanly grouted ceramic tiles organized within a dense grid, flanked by an alcove featuring an entrancing neon sign. And next to the illumination is a limp hanging tarp, brutally blasted so many times with a pressure washer that the rubber has begun disintegrating from the open weave threads into which it was imbued. Ceramic roses, affixed to the facade begin to reveal the predominantly veiled hand of the artist: Los Angeles based Patrick Martinez, who through these works explores the subtle beauty, violence and hustle embedded in the understated material surroundings of so many Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Martinez, has become well known in recent years in part for his “Pee-Chee” series which feature portraits of recent victims of police violence intermixed within the scholastic folders of classic Americana–a jarring visual experience which both memorializes these tragic losses of life while meditating on the sorts of traumas that these heinous acts of violence embed predominantly within communities of color. While Martinez’s new work operates in a distinctly more subtle fashion, the specter of the memorial lingers. Much as we’re trained to read a person through a myriad of visual cues, signifiers and inscribed characteristics, Martinez’s new social landscapes contain a similar series of subtle descriptors that paint an open ended portrait of neighborhoods marked by particular socioeconomic realities.

Martinez’s new paintings call to mind certain works by Chicago’s Theaster Gates such as his paintings composed of roofing paper and tar or his puzzle-like works which utilize the hardwood floors of abandoned neighborhood basketball courts, or even Mark Bradford’s intensely collaged and sanded surfaces. Much like the works of Gates and Bradford, Martinez’s new paintings function as reinterpretations of landscapes and largely as contemporary landscape paintings in their own right. Yet if we are to think of these as landscapes–vestiges or reflections of the particular communities that the artist references, then what is the effect of stripping them and placing them within the context of a gallery, or perhaps more importantly what is the effect of art institutions and artists within these communities?

#FRUIT

Andrew Wilson

#FRUIT is the ongoing project of Oakland based artist Andrew Wilson which explores the intersections of Black male masculinity and sexuality in the American imaginary, employing the languages of fashion and performance as a meditation on the consumption and commodification of Black bodies. As a line of Wilson’s performers weave methodically through a space, adorned in a range of caftans, joggers, bomber jackets, crowns, durags and jewelry–the spectacle carries an air of magic or ritualism as solemn figures bedecked in Wilson’s visceral yet understated garb, weave past each other in silence.

For Wilson, each material and their embedded histories are carefully considered; cotton, brass, poplar and human hair being among the artist’s most used. A closer inspection of Wilson’s work begins to unravel the immense depth interwoven into each piece–whether it’s the artist’s cotton garments adorned with cyanotype prints depicting diagrams of slave ships that sailed the Atlantic passage or blurry images of bodies hanging from limbs; or necklaces composed of strings of individual dreadlocks, bronze cotton boll husks and brass cowrie shells which served as currency for much of West Africa as well as the slave trade that tore across this same coast. Each piece of #FRUIT is made by hand, furthering a discussion relating to labor and exploitation as it relates to the Black body.

As the artist states, “#FRUIT finds itself at the crossroads between the art and fashion worlds. It lives at the intersection of memorial, utilitarian object, and trauma under the guise of a site of spectacle and consumption”. Disrupting the safety provided by the museum and gallery, or the store as a consumer space, the artist has decided altogether to refuse the sale of certain works thereby destabilizing any consumer impulse and controlling the flows of capital as they relate to the artist’s work and the recontextualized histories involved.