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Patrick Martinez, High, Low and In Between

Parker's Box
193 Grand Street, 718-388-2882
September 17 - October 17, 2010
Reception: Friday, September 17, 6 - 9 PM
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Parker’s Box is delighted to present High, Low and in Between, a new installation by Patrick Martinez.

The artist’ s previous exhibitions at the gallery have borne witness to Martinez’ eclectic and prolific practice, providing spectators with memorable sensorial experiences, (large holes smashed in the gallery floor filled with bubbling green liquid…an interactive, optical-effects tunnel animated by rotating colored circles…) as well as striking individual works including smoke sculptures, monumental doodles, laser-cut drawings, and a multitude of experimental videos.

Among the latter, a number of recent works have involved the technique of using series of similar chosen images as the frames of a film. Parker’ s Box begins its 2010-2011 season with a special screening of The Hole a week before the opening of High, Low and in Between. The Hole (2008) was produced by filming a zoom into multiple images of holes, creating the impression that we are hurtling into a completely irregular tunnel that has been cut, blasted, drilled and bored into a whole variety of diverse materials. Once again, this work and the two new works presented in the exhibition, High, Low and in Between, use completely contrasting techniques but add their voices to a coherent reflection.

Through his tireless and prolific research and experimentation the artist explores a particularly rich, personal universe in which suggestions of matter and anti-matter share the center stage and become interchangeable. The experiential basis of Martinez’ work often simultaneously utilizes objects and materials as the hyperrealist representation of themselves, the suggestion of natural phenomena and/or an abstract expression of particular atmospheres and sensations. In the work titled High, Low and In Between, for example, a number of sheets of Styrofoam are used to create a false ceiling and a platform allows visitors to pass their heads into the space created above the expanse of Styrofoam. While thoughts of an inverted Inuit fishing hole in the polar landscape come easily to mind, a curious and unexpected atmosphere is created by the semi-transparent whiteness of the familiar, cheap material that the artist has used to create this horizontal division of the space. In his most recent projects, Martinez increasingly avoids any temptation to hide or camouflage the mechanisms of his work. While careful use of lighting becomes an important vehicle of atmosphere here, the materials used ultimately represent themselves much more than the illusion of something else. The simplicity of the means allows other layers of metaphor to develop, and the origins of the title (given to both this piece and the exhibition) suggest that the artist welcomes this. “High, Low and In Between” is a country album by Townes Van Zandt (1972), whose use of the phrase would seem to refer to psychological levels, or degrees of depression.

The second work presented in the exhibition is titled Blush. To make this work, the artist has inserted into one of the gallery walls a very flat, circular material known as “Flatlite” that acts as a glowing light source. The idea is a simple one, but once again finds the spectator drawn into an experiential situation in the face of an unexpected, and unusual physical presence. Walls do not normally glow, and they certainly are unlikely to blush. Martinez often enjoys this kind of discreet transformation applied to something as banal as a wall. The strangeness of the resulting experience has a grain of the surreal, but corresponds also to a kind of neo-existentialism in the artist’s concerns with the physical world and its impermanence.

As a logical extension of these preoccupations, Martinez has pursued an activity as a designer in parallel with his artworks. The line that divides these two parts of the artist’s creativity is often particularly fuzzy, though his design work necessarily tends to graft itself onto functional objects. That said, it could easily be claimed that the wall described above is also a functional thing, and certainly the artwork Blush relates closely to a number of objects designed by Martinez. One of his most recent projects is a computer screensaver that essentially transforms the computer into a lamp whose various parameters of color and intensity can be modified by the user. The Martinez Click Lamp has been named Best of Category winner in the 2010 I.D Annual Design Review Competition, and is currently on view at the AIGA National Design Center in New York.

Patrick Martinez was born in Besançon, France in 1969 and studied in Grenoble and Paris before leaving to live in Tokyo and finally settling in New York. He has exhibited widely in Europe, Japan and the US including at The Showroom, London; Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris; Galerie Anne Barrault, Paris; Futura, Prague; Metrònom, Barcelona; Intercommunication Center, Tokyo; D’Amelio Terras, New York; Exit Art, New York; Artists’ Space, New York.
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