Works Gallery
Artist Information

Patrick Martinez

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?