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Jason Martin
b. 1970


Chelsea School of Art (1989-1990)
Goldsmiths College (1990-1993)

Firmly anchored in the Modernist practices of the gestural and monochrome, Jason Martin consistently challenges the definition of painting, creating intensely pigmented works with extraordinary sculptural qualities that bridge the two- and three-dimensional. The process-based formalism of Martin's approach reflects the influence of artists such as Robert Ryman, although he argues that 'the most interesting abstraction has a source of figuration [...] there is a warmth of figuration that I try to effect into the movements – gestures – that I make [on the canvas].'

In Martin's early works, while still a student at Goldsmiths in the 1990s, he manipulated striations of oil paint or acrylic gel on metal or Plexiglas grounds using a comb-like tool he created – a technique that he has refined throughout his career. This is used to create energetic ridges and furrows of pigment that can be read as extreme close-ups of a painterly brushstroke, drawing attention to the action and materiality of painting itself. His works are structurally varied, ranging from a thin glaze through which the metal ground gleams to sculptural reliefs with overlapping ridges and furrows. In the context of Martin's notion that landscape painting and abstraction are intertwined, his work becomes an imaginary space, a mental landscape, an abstracted and mesmeric focal point for contemplation. 

Among contemporary abstract painters, the intensity of Martin’s engagement with his chosen medium is a defining characteristic. In his work the substance of paint is not simply a vehicle for expression. Rather, it becomes an entire world that he inhabits, explores and tests. Its defining features are colour, shape and texture, and while each of these elements is concentrated to maximum pitch they are nevertheless nuanced with extreme sensitivity. His feeling for colour is extraordinary, ranging from super-saturated, pure pigments to delicate inflexions in which different hues are refracted and mixed. Shape is no less a remarkable physical – and not simply optical – presence. Earlier painters such as Franz Kline articulated abstract form as a kind of non- descriptive ideogram surrounded by space. In contrast, in Martin’s art shape is inseparable from the movement and texture of paint.


Its plasticity is an expressive, physical fact in which event and surface are as one. Indeed, the key to Martin’s art is the unique way that all these elements are enmeshed, with none predominating. As in the world we occupy, colour, shape and texture form an integral fabric. Indivisible, these elements are the components of the places he creates - terrains of visual and tactile sensation, experienced directly and essentially.

Public Collections


Denver Art Museum
Hirschhorn Museum Washington, DC
Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Germany
Museum of Modern Art, La Spezia, Italy

oil on Perspex
122 x 122cm

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