Caught Between Honor and Revenge, How Far Will One Man Go

Pow Martinez
Silverlens, Manila

About

    Silverlens Galleries presents Pow Martinez’s latest show Caught Between Honor and Revenge, How Far Will One Man Go which showcases Martinez’s purposefully banal, comic and perverse take on portraiture, group mentalities and the physically expressive qualities of painting. The excitement of the exhibition’s title however, does not reference the artist’s subject matter, but rather exploits the drama of action movies – lifting a tagline from an eighties martial arts film – to generate curiosity around Martinez’s latest creative exploits. Instead, his visual inspiration continues to evolve out of the Internet, from images of groups of people in casual or official portrait as well as individual subjects. Although more interested in the patterns of figures in formation than any specific meaning, Martinez acknowledges that his subjects also loosely reflect the nature of ‘clubs’ and of belonging to a particular scene, much like the groups that make up the art world in Manila today.

    Digital appropriation continues to be an endless pursuit for many young artists who mine the Web for interesting content to quote and subvert. However rather than getting lost in the Realist pursuit of technical reproduction and narrative, Martinez strips his subjects of recognizable detail to create bizarre scenes filled with primitive figures, abstracted movements and visceral applications of paint. Deprived of any specific meaning, they are instead recycled into a type of visual energy filled with dark humor and painterly obsession. Raw and intuitively expressive each work is then weighed down by a density of paint as well as a chaotic blend of line, form and brushstroke all created through a deft manipulation of medium. However, any academic discussions that might emerge around Martinez’s style or technique are constantly deflected through a crass form of comic relief or ‘crappy’ painterly jokes.

    Martinez often calls his work an exercise in ‘bad art’. Interested in exaggerating mediocrity and kitsch, his selection of subject matter is often a combination of absurd juxtapositions and ridiculous titillation. Whether awkward fetish or ghoulish motley crews, his figures inevitably become bastards of their original selves or anonymous parodies of desire and torture. Although this caricature of deviance veers towards abjection – filth, degradation and repulsion to human death and waste -- it always maintains a position of being on the verge of failure more than anything else. It is this sense of ‘wrongness’ whether political, sexual or even technical that seems to drive Martinez and many young artists working within this vein of contemporary Filipino art.

    Sets of people feature strongly throughout his exhibition at Silverlens. Sports teams and various groups such as (s)expats on holiday with bikini clad ladies visually represent an interest in uniforms and the symmetries of arrangement, as well as the uncomfortable connotations of the sex industry and tribal/team mentalities. Vintage Tennis homogenizes a historical sports portrait, into a group of players with the same frog like, scowling face. Conversely Scene

    Queen portrays a single bearded military general of sorts in official dress, with curious long hair, sun glasses and an ear piercing. This anarchic figure thus challenges perceived notions of authority and leadership and stands in unique contrast to the vacuous features of Martinez’s repetitious athletes. These dichotomies of individuality and uniformity, of being part of something and standing alone relate to how communities form and gather through shared values, interests and demographics, much like the art world itself. And although Martinez’s exhibition is not specific critique of the art world politics, these images nevertheless explore notions of belonging, of cliques and clubs that include and exclude. It is a playful nod to the scenes within scenes that observe, comment and question, through creative practice, society and culture itself.

    Caught Between Honor and Revenge, How Far Will One Man Go is a curious title and a characteristic gesture of false marketing and kitschy appropriation common throughout Pow Martinez’s practice. Although there are no martial arts references from the movie the exhibition title is taken from – which is incidentally Bloodsport, featuring the ridiculously muscular Jean Claude Van Damme-- viewers nevertheless experience various contradictory dramas, filled with loud and tasteless characters. It is indicative of a particular attitude found in young artists today who are interested in seeing the humorous side of sex, death, and pop culture. In this arena everything is up for ridicule. Failure is not only accepted but embraced as a marker for success to challenge norms and create new ways of expressing our contemporary condition in the constantly contested arena of art and ideas.

    Words by Eva McGovern

    Pow Martinez is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Awards for 1 billion years exhibition in West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media including sound. His recent group exhibitions include Bastards of Misrepresentation New York and Berlin editions, Salvation in a Nest of Vipers in Melbourne, Australia, and Complete and Unabridged in Osage Gallery, Hong Kong. Martinez has also held a number of solo shows in major galleries in Manila, most Recently, Dogs Playing Poker, in Manila Contemporary.

    Martinez’s paintings belie their grotesque subject matter with indelibly beautiful surfaces and a wide ranging, daring use of color. Mutants, monsters, demons, deviants, and freaks lurch, sit and appear to transform amidst weirdly lit landscape or disintegrating urban scenarios ,or emerge from a painterly graffito mess, but, as his more abstracted works insist, pow’s ability to render intriguing relationships between forms and surfaces ensure his works are endlessly compelling – an experience akin to a beautiful nightmare.

Silverlens Galleries presents Pow Martinez’s latest show Caught Between Honor and Revenge, How Far Will One Man Go which showcases Martinez’s purposefully banal, comic and perverse take on portraiture, group mentalities and the physically expressive qualities of painting. The excitement of the exhibition’s title however, does not reference the artist’s subject matter, but rather exploits the drama of action movies – lifting a tagline from an eighties martial arts film – to generate curiosity around Martinez’s latest creative exploits. Instead, his visual inspiration continues to evolve out of the Internet, from images of groups of people in casual or official portrait as well as individual subjects. Although more interested in the patterns of figures in formation than any specific meaning, Martinez acknowledges that his subjects also loosely reflect the nature of ‘clubs’ and of belonging to a particular scene, much like the groups that make up the art world in Manila today.

Digital appropriation continues to be an endless pursuit for many young artists who mine the Web for interesting content to quote and subvert. However rather than getting lost in the Realist pursuit of technical reproduction and narrative, Martinez strips his subjects of recognizable detail to create bizarre scenes filled with primitive figures, abstracted movements and visceral applications of paint. Deprived of any specific meaning, they are instead recycled into a type of visual energy filled with dark humor and painterly obsession. Raw and intuitively expressive each work is then weighed down by a density of paint as well as a chaotic blend of line, form and brushstroke all created through a deft manipulation of medium. However, any academic discussions that might emerge around Martinez’s style or technique are constantly deflected through a crass form of comic relief or ‘crappy’ painterly jokes.

Martinez often calls his work an exercise in ‘bad art’. Interested in exaggerating mediocrity and kitsch, his selection of subject matter is often a combination of absurd juxtapositions and ridiculous titillation. Whether awkward fetish or ghoulish motley crews, his figures inevitably become bastards of their original selves or anonymous parodies of desire and torture. Although this caricature of deviance veers towards abjection – filth, degradation and repulsion to human death and waste -- it always maintains a position of being on the verge of failure more than anything else. It is this sense of ‘wrongness’ whether political, sexual or even technical that seems to drive Martinez and many young artists working within this vein of contemporary Filipino art.

Sets of people feature strongly throughout his exhibition at Silverlens. Sports teams and various groups such as (s)expats on holiday with bikini clad ladies visually represent an interest in uniforms and the symmetries of arrangement, as well as the uncomfortable connotations of the sex industry and tribal/team mentalities. Vintage Tennis homogenizes a historical sports portrait, into a group of players with the same frog like, scowling face. Conversely Scene

Queen portrays a single bearded military general of sorts in official dress, with curious long hair, sun glasses and an ear piercing. This anarchic figure thus challenges perceived notions of authority and leadership and stands in unique contrast to the vacuous features of Martinez’s repetitious athletes. These dichotomies of individuality and uniformity, of being part of something and standing alone relate to how communities form and gather through shared values, interests and demographics, much like the art world itself. And although Martinez’s exhibition is not specific critique of the art world politics, these images nevertheless explore notions of belonging, of cliques and clubs that include and exclude. It is a playful nod to the scenes within scenes that observe, comment and question, through creative practice, society and culture itself.

Caught Between Honor and Revenge, How Far Will One Man Go is a curious title and a characteristic gesture of false marketing and kitschy appropriation common throughout Pow Martinez’s practice. Although there are no martial arts references from the movie the exhibition title is taken from – which is incidentally Bloodsport, featuring the ridiculously muscular Jean Claude Van Damme-- viewers nevertheless experience various contradictory dramas, filled with loud and tasteless characters. It is indicative of a particular attitude found in young artists today who are interested in seeing the humorous side of sex, death, and pop culture. In this arena everything is up for ridicule. Failure is not only accepted but embraced as a marker for success to challenge norms and create new ways of expressing our contemporary condition in the constantly contested arena of art and ideas.

Words by Eva McGovern

Pow Martinez is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Awards for 1 billion years exhibition in West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media including sound. His recent group exhibitions include Bastards of Misrepresentation New York and Berlin editions, Salvation in a Nest of Vipers in Melbourne, Australia, and Complete and Unabridged in Osage Gallery, Hong Kong. Martinez has also held a number of solo shows in major galleries in Manila, most Recently, Dogs Playing Poker, in Manila Contemporary.

Martinez’s paintings belie their grotesque subject matter with indelibly beautiful surfaces and a wide ranging, daring use of color. Mutants, monsters, demons, deviants, and freaks lurch, sit and appear to transform amidst weirdly lit landscape or disintegrating urban scenarios ,or emerge from a painterly graffito mess, but, as his more abstracted works insist, pow’s ability to render intriguing relationships between forms and surfaces ensure his works are endlessly compelling – an experience akin to a beautiful nightmare.

Works

Pow Martinez
We Are Here For The Women
2014
4435
2
acrylic on canvas
72.01h x 72.01w in • 182.90h x 182.90w cm
-1
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PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
Vintage Tennis
2014
4436
2
acrylic on canvas
72.01h x 72.01w in • 182.90h x 182.90w cm
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
Scene Queen
2014
4437
2
acrylic on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
1
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PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
Lady Life Guard
2014
4439
2
acrylic on canvas
30h x 20w in • 76.20h x 50.80w cm
1
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PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
Mitch
2014
4438
2
acrylic on canvas
30h x 20w in • 76.20h x 50.80w cm
1
0.00
PHP
0
Details

Installation Views

Artist Page

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