Wednesday 4 February 2015

New Exhibition: Artist America Martin's New Show in Los Angeles

Artist America Martin at her studio in LA: "My new work reflects what has been my most recent boon of solace: music, flowers, dirt, vines and growing things, and always the figure, the form.” 
 Los Angeles-based painter and sculptor America Martin’s new exhibition How the Sun Goes has opened at the JoAnne Artman Gallery, Jeanne-Marie Cilento & Raphael West report
Evening Bath 2015 Mixed media on cotton paper 
AMERICA Martin’s new show explores the themes and subjects dear to the artist’s heart including reclining female nudes and musicians at work.  Both the paintings and collages have her signature bold line and massive, solid figures. Inspired not only by early modernist painters but also by her Colombian background and her interest in indigenous culture, Martin’s work embodies a dynamism and joy that is rare in contemporary art today.
Old Vines 2015 Collage & ink
“Color and line are king," says the painter before the exhibition.“With color and line, a woman, a flower, the arc of the blue sky bending into night can be caught, held down by love and captured into a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture.” Martin says although the new series of works have similar themes, this time she is including new ways of working such as using mixed media on paper and collage. “The adventure began by cutting out paper and photographing the abstract shapes," she explains. “Taking these shapes to the computer…and ironing, flattening and melding them into compositions. I then sent these steam rolled images to a small artisan print house, and printed one image of each on 100% cotton rag paper. Then with oil, ink and pencil I re-find the stories and shapes to pull to the surface.” The outcome of this process has what Martin calls a “freshness, and flatness” and she says it is like making her own custom, coloured paper.
When the Moon Swims in the Sea 2015 Mixed media on paper
The other technique she uses in the new show is collage. For fifteen years, Martin has been going to Hiromi Paper in Santa Monica. “Hiromi has an amazing collection of papers from around the world, but mainly imports papers from Japan. These are the papers I work with. Some of these papers are made by monks; some are dyed by minerals found in the earth.”
The artist describes the process of creating her collage works: “I begin by holding a piece of paper in my hand and just look at it. Soon it will, to my muse’s eye, start to resemble a leaf, a wood plank or a woman’s neck. With a big pair of scissors, I begin cutting, I need not stop, or listen for the story, the subject is constant and it is there, in each piece of paper. It sings out saying ‘Hear I am this is my line.' Dorothy like, with her scarecrow, I put back together the parts, the pieces of paper, so that they resemble to the viewers' eye, what I already see in the quiet flat piece of paper.”

Martin has been painting with oil and acrylic on canvas since the beginning of her career and she says her way of working has subtly changed with her sweeping lines moving from the light and gestural to heavy and bold and the colors metamorphosing from dark to light. She says the paintings are like her diary and closely follow her life, becoming very personal pieces to her.

The artist at work on a large painting at her studio in LA
“I love the process of painting but it is the slowest,’’ she says. “Because I work with oil and acrylic it can take months for these materials to cure. My body of new work reflects what has been my most recent boon of solace: music, flowers, dirt, vines and growing things, and always the figure, the form.” Looking back today, Martin says her passion for painting began when she bought a book about Van Gogh at the age of nine years old. As a precocious child of Los Angeles, by ten she had already begun studying with Vernon Wilson at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Growing up in the Hollywood Hills, Martin continued this apprenticeship for the next eight years while attending the Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, California.

Women, Wind and Sea Flowers 2015 Oil & acrylic on canvas
After high school, she went on to study at the Boston Museum School and then moved back to Los Angeles. Martin soon began exhibiting and selling her work with other young artists and she was able to build up enough work to get the attention of art galleries. By starting to sell her work early, Martin was able to create a career in full-time painting in her twenties.
Hammock and Garden 2014-2015 Oil & acrylic on canvas
"This new show embraces the old and the new," the artist says. "Works done in collage, oil and acrylic on canvas and works done in mixed media on paper with the wonders of technology. I consider myself a very old school artist. Always drawn to the slow process ~ to things more classically inclined. At this time, I am not interested in the notion of editions or prints. I love the song of a single thing. I admire the reverence in unique one-of-a-kind creations. Each piece is done by my own hand and is an original."

How the Sun Goes: New Works by Colombian-American Artist America Martin at JoAnne Artman Gallery in Laguna Beach, California USA. The show runs from February 5th, 2015 until March 31st. For more information visit:

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