Aesthetic Police

Pow Martinez
ROH Projects, Jakarta

About

    ROH Projects is pleased to present Manila-based artist Pow Martinez’ first solo exhibition, Aesthetic Police, in Indonesia, an outcome of a month-long residency program at OPQRStudio, Bandung. In this show, Martinez (b. 1983) continues his ongoing aesthetic exploration into the outer limits and intersections of vanity/beauty and ugliness/honesty in and out of context. At first glance, Martinez’ paintings seem naive, or deceptively one-dimensional in nature. His works appear almost child-like due to their cartoonish nature, and developed out of purely intuitive considerations. The compositions are vivid and colourful, but they are difficult to photograph and appear almost flat and inert under the camera lens.

    So seeing images of Martinez’ paintings on a digital screen or in a printed catalogue is one thing. Encountering his works in person, especially in context of a more comprehensive articulation of ideas such as in Aesthetic Police, results in a remarkably visceral experience into this medium of painting. Beneath the seemingly banal, defaced characters and symbols in Martinez’ works, there is a sense of great honesty that the artist attempts to communicate in relation to the more existential explorations universal to the human condition. In contrast to artists of this more figurative genre throughout the region, Martinez’ works are devoid of any direct socio-political representation, and are instead filled with mythologies that originate from within Martinez’ own lexicon. The figures he paints are often- times in some form of recreation or leisure, and it is almost as if these characters are ignorant to the situations happening around them. In other paintings, conventionally very grim situations, such as a burning down car, are painted in a contradictory, almost joyful manner.

    In many ways, it seems to be the case that Martinez opens up the conversation regarding his works for the viewer to insert his/her own narratives and viewpoints into his paintings. In a sense, the paintings then act as a mirror that shines light upon the viewer’s own perspectives, perspectives he/she may not have known existed there in the first place.

    Pow Martinez uses a lot of camouflage as a recurring pattern in his works, and perhaps this is an apt metaphor to describe his practice. Under the surface, Martinez’ works conceal a much greater complexity of attitudes and philosophies towards art history as well as explorations into the greater conversation of meaning and purpose. It almost appears as if Martinez deliberately hides his own angst and perspectives below layers and layers of paint, and it is the meticulous, careful exploration into his practice that becomes extremely rewarding to the viewer. To Martinez, camouflage resembles the idea of being part of a group, or official designation. It is also a threatening symbol, of uniformity and obedience. To what extent, then, is an individual a part of a greater whole? How does one escape from the trappings of societal expectations and formulaic channels of living? Watch out, here comes the Aesthetic Police.

     

    Words by Jun Tirtadji

    Pow Martinez's (b. 1983; lives and works in Manila, Philippines) paintings belie their grotesque subject matter with the 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 landscapes or disintegrating urban scenarios, or emerge from a painterly graffito mess, but, as his more abstracted works insist, Martinez’ ability to render intriguing relationships between forms and surfaces ensure his works are endlessly compelling—an experience akin to a beautiful nightmare.

    Martinez is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Awards for his exhibition 1 Billion Years at West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media, including sound. His recent exhibitions include WASAK! Reloaded (2016) in Arndt, Singapore; and WASAK! (2016) in Arndt, Berlin. 

ROH Projects is pleased to present Manila-based artist Pow Martinez’ first solo exhibition, Aesthetic Police, in Indonesia, an outcome of a month-long residency program at OPQRStudio, Bandung. In this show, Martinez (b. 1983) continues his ongoing aesthetic exploration into the outer limits and intersections of vanity/beauty and ugliness/honesty in and out of context. At first glance, Martinez’ paintings seem naive, or deceptively one-dimensional in nature. His works appear almost child-like due to their cartoonish nature, and developed out of purely intuitive considerations. The compositions are vivid and colourful, but they are difficult to photograph and appear almost flat and inert under the camera lens.

So seeing images of Martinez’ paintings on a digital screen or in a printed catalogue is one thing. Encountering his works in person, especially in context of a more comprehensive articulation of ideas such as in Aesthetic Police, results in a remarkably visceral experience into this medium of painting. Beneath the seemingly banal, defaced characters and symbols in Martinez’ works, there is a sense of great honesty that the artist attempts to communicate in relation to the more existential explorations universal to the human condition. In contrast to artists of this more figurative genre throughout the region, Martinez’ works are devoid of any direct socio-political representation, and are instead filled with mythologies that originate from within Martinez’ own lexicon. The figures he paints are often- times in some form of recreation or leisure, and it is almost as if these characters are ignorant to the situations happening around them. In other paintings, conventionally very grim situations, such as a burning down car, are painted in a contradictory, almost joyful manner.

In many ways, it seems to be the case that Martinez opens up the conversation regarding his works for the viewer to insert his/her own narratives and viewpoints into his paintings. In a sense, the paintings then act as a mirror that shines light upon the viewer’s own perspectives, perspectives he/she may not have known existed there in the first place.

Pow Martinez uses a lot of camouflage as a recurring pattern in his works, and perhaps this is an apt metaphor to describe his practice. Under the surface, Martinez’ works conceal a much greater complexity of attitudes and philosophies towards art history as well as explorations into the greater conversation of meaning and purpose. It almost appears as if Martinez deliberately hides his own angst and perspectives below layers and layers of paint, and it is the meticulous, careful exploration into his practice that becomes extremely rewarding to the viewer. To Martinez, camouflage resembles the idea of being part of a group, or official designation. It is also a threatening symbol, of uniformity and obedience. To what extent, then, is an individual a part of a greater whole? How does one escape from the trappings of societal expectations and formulaic channels of living? Watch out, here comes the Aesthetic Police.

 

Words by Jun Tirtadji

Pow Martinez's (b. 1983; lives and works in Manila, Philippines) paintings belie their grotesque subject matter with the 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 landscapes or disintegrating urban scenarios, or emerge from a painterly graffito mess, but, as his more abstracted works insist, Martinez’ ability to render intriguing relationships between forms and surfaces ensure his works are endlessly compelling—an experience akin to a beautiful nightmare.

Martinez is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Awards for his exhibition 1 Billion Years at West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media, including sound. His recent exhibitions include WASAK! Reloaded (2016) in Arndt, Singapore; and WASAK! (2016) in Arndt, Berlin. 

Installation Views

Works

Pow Martinez
Crowning Point
2018
4993
2
oil on canvas
118.11h x 157.48w in • 300h x 400w cm
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Pow Martinez
Celebration
2018
4991
2
oil on canvas
60.24h x 60.24w in • 153h x 153w cm
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Pow Martinez
Useless
4999
2
oil on canvas
72.05h x 60.24w in • 183h x 153w cm
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Pow Martinez
Human Achievements
2018
4995
2
oil on canvas
70.87h x 70.87w in • 180h x 180w cm
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Pow Martinez
Intimate Relationships
2018
4996
2
oil on canvas
36.22h x 40.16w in • 92h x 102w cm
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Pow Martinez
Mask
2018
4997
2
oil on canvas
28.74h x 23.62w in • 73h x 60w cm
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Pow Martinez
Not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need
2018
4998
2
oil on canvas
49.21h x 54.33w in • 125h x 138w cm
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Pow Martinez
Explorers
2018
4994
2
oil on canvas
70.87h x 70.87w in • 180h x 180w cm
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Pow Martinez
Ancestral Spirit
2018
4990
2
oil on canvas
60.24h x 83.86w in • 153h x 213w cm
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Pow Martinez
Collection of Decapitated Heads Inside A Jar
2018
4992
2
oil on canvas
31.50h x 23.62w in • 80h x 60w cm
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