Martins works with a peculiar range of materials, media and themes that reveal the complex relations between civilization and nature. He makes recognizable, striking and enigmatic zoomorphic sculptures from old used wooden boards, which recall both the wild forest and the warmth of the abode. He creates monochrome graphic works with acrylic paint and graphite pencil. Martins considers his works in different media, including works made for public spaces, to constitute a closely interconnected socio-aesthetic project on environmental disaster, the ambivalent status of man in the system of organic life, regional identity and the uniting potential of art.
The origins of the works presented at the exhibition lie in the large-scale collective performance Being Together organized by Martins at the Archstoyanie Festival in summer 2017. In the picturesque valley of the river Ugra near the village of Nikola-Lenivets, the artist arranged a hundred of his wooden animals on rough knotty pedestals and invited the audience to light this unusual “firewood”. The art, created and sacrificed, became a powerful source of physical warmth for a time, and the image of blazing fires that warmed the attending crowd – a memorable and, at the same time, alarming and totemic metaphor for the unsatisfied striving for solidarity in our era of isolation and frustration.
The energy from the burnt sculptures, transformed into “mental fuel”, gave impetus to Martins’ new project. Three installations are shown at the exhibition in Fragment Gallery, constituting three alternative art forms. In them, Martins takes different approaches to his key idea of combining thermodynamic and social heat, moving freely from one medium to another, as if exposing materials to alchemical transmutations.
This is a sculptural model of a public monument, combining the characteristic figure of the animal made of old boards that have darkened over time and a minimalist light object – a source of artificial fire. This is a series of colour pictures that compare the pictorial codes of modernist abstraction with the natural patterns of organic life, namely the reproduction of molds. Finally, it is a graphical composition that is made directly on the white walls of the gallery and captures the laconic urban skyline – an ephemeral “landscape of recycling”. Exploring each of these plastic alternatives, the artist becomes an “agent” of both culture and nature. He uncovers their hybrid organic identity and inexorable disunity, making art itself both possible and so necessary for us.