To see: Eddie Martinez at ZeiherSmith
March 3, 2008, 7:03 pm
Filed under: art | Tags: , ,

Eddie’s work as an artist and curator is unrelenting. His main gestures involve breaking things down and building them up again; his obsession for giving objects and materials new uses shows in his work. During his stint in Boston in the early ’00s, he took his hustle nationally and curated The Russian Doll show, where he handed fifty or so visual artists a set of Russian Matryoshka dolls and asked them for their interpretations. It landed in Boston at the old Green Street Gallery.

Perhaps he was inspired the by coming across the painted Matryoyshkas with images of political figures, celebrities, and pop-culture icons while trawling deep into Brookline or swerving past the kiosk in the middle of the hallway at the Prudential Center. But what was clear from the show was that Martinez saw the Matryoshka as possessing possibilites beyond their typical, decorative use and put into play their abilty to be very flexible means of representation. In essence, Martinez’ idea removed the dolls from their specifically folk context and allowed the doll’s figure to become a manipulable and plastic form.

Since he left Boston for NYC in 2004,* I had come across reports of his activity, an illustration job here doing a cover for Copper Press, a possible advertising job somewhere else, some work featured in gallery shows, and that he had taken to painting. But overall, news on the Eddie Martinez front had been sporadic. So it was it was exciting to learn while flipping through the most recent issue of Artforum that Eddie is having a gallery show in New York this month, his second with the ZieherSmith Gallery: a full-page ad with a studio shot, no less.

Not bad for a dude that was re-mixing priority mail labels by drawing on them, filling them in with color and splaying them out across the city and who, in a fit of frustration at what he saw was the onslaught of gentrification of Jamaica Plain back in 2002-3 by re-purposing a “Do Not Enter” sign. On it he affixed a previously-noted postage label of a short-beaked bird in flight donning a ball cap. On the sign’s bottom half he painted a cloud-shaped field of blue and drew a furry celestial gorilla at the bottom commenting “Let’s keep it blue-collar…”. Two days after he did his business, the sign was taken down and ceased being a note of caution.

UntitledSo what to expect at Martinez’ next show? Paintings, it seems, many paintings and some assorted drawings and mixed media pieces alongside. Primitive and tender still lives sit alongside densely composed figures playing ping-pong . The paintings are deliberately coarse and elemental, thickly textured and communicating constant activity. Martinez’ figures speak with their eyes, whether those of the vigilant and suffering eagle in Untitled, or the confused, feverish, and intense visages found in Separate the Men from the Boys. His drawing and mixed media and paper work shown on the gallery’s website are busy, vibrant, and sometimes somber, but they have gathered objects at their center. It is indeterminate whether they are the artifacts collected from someone now lost or whether these objects are inventoried in anticipation of a coming event.

The show at ZeiherSmith opens March 12.

*Josh Glenn over at Brainiac today openly pondered what I was thinking when writing this post: Why does all of our local talent leave? Visit his column for his most recent tally.


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