Clunker

Pow Martinez
Silverlens, Manila

About

    An interesting consequence of the development of oil paint tubes was that it allowed more artists to explore the outdoors and paint within the landscape. Prior to this, painters had to grind raw pigments to mix their own colors, making the idea of painting outside the studio somewhat inconvenient. Eventually becoming known as the En Plein Air School, these “landscape portraiture” painters aimed to capture nature under the changing qualities of light, in swift and loose brushwork, favoring softness over precision, impression over detail.

    I find my thoughts drifting to this moment in Painting’s history as I talk with Pow Martinez about his upcoming show, Clunker. Half-jokingly, he suggests he’s just doing “what a nature painter might do in a digital landscape.” While the landscape painters of yore yearned to be outside, safety precautions of the past two years forced everyone, not just painters, to spend extended periods indoors. Confined in our domestic spaces, deprived of seemingly mundane things like everyday interaction and natural light, most of us turned heavily to our digital devices to afford us a glimpse of the outside world and keep us remotely in touch with friends and kin. This realm of the digital is the landscape that Pow navigates, wading through pages and scrolling endless feeds across multiple screens in search of that moment, that perfect frame to be captured by a screenshot. 

    Rejecting learned notions of skill or mastery, Pow celebrates the pleasure of painting as a primarily physical and analog act. Favoring the unsophisticated over the belabored, his works exude an air of innocence and play, scattered with a dose of mischief.  His more recent pieces, smaller in scale and done in water-based acrylics on paper, take his pursuit of “painting in a direct and honest way” further and perhaps designed to mute the residual romantic sensibilities associated with thickly slathered oil paint. In parts resembling single-frame comics, 8-bit graphic art, and adult magazine illustrations, the works on paper feature a larger cast of characters ranging from knights, soldiers, drifters, and cavemen, to angels, gods, monsters, and ghosts. Caught in unintelligible scenarios, their juxtapositions perhaps make sense as random snapshots of an upturned and jumbled museum. 

    The larger canvases broadly feature a more recognizable figure in Pow’s body of work: though seemingly donning several personas, he remains unmistakable in each iteration. Set apart by the signature mullet, blank stare, and the permanently gaped expression of a blow-up doll, this unnamed character calls to mind that familiar ‘80s era fun uncle who never bought into the 9-to-5 lifestyle, and so just happens to be always at home. Personally, the paintings remind me of the feel and atmosphere of obscure Americana, gleaned from years if not decades of watching road movies and screwball comedies conjured by the likes of the Coen Brothers and Harmony Korine, all the way through the present-day YouTube blackholes, WorldStar clips and “fail vids.” It also brings to mind stories of musicians or comedians on tour, performing in dingy dive bars and staying in roadside motels as they travel across the States, doing the grind. 

    Lodged in their respective rooms, the protagonists in Self-Portrait April 12, 2022 and Solitary Confinement enact the strange contortions of the sedentary body; isolated, inert, and slowly melding and disappearing into the contours and habits of the furniture. Further still, the solitary figure in falling down has been totally removed from any context of place and merely laid out naked, with an impossibly twisted torso and limbs and digits stretched out. With no couch to melt into, his body is seemingly being pushed directly against glass, perhaps from the other side of the screen, aching to break out. 

    – Gary-Ross Pastrana

    Pow Martinez (b. 1983) is a recipient of the 2010 Ateneo Art Award for his exhibition 1 Billion Years at West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media, from painting to sound. His recent exhibitions include City Prince/sses (2019) at Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Art Jakarta 2019 with Silverlens and ROH Projects; 50 Years in Hollywood (2019) at Pinto Art Museum in New York; Art Basel Hong Kong 2019 with Silverlens; WXXX (2019), West Gallery, Manila; Art Taipei 2017WASAK! Reloaded (2016) in Arndt, Singapore; and WASAK! (2016) in Arndt, Berlin. Martinez has also held a number of solo shows in major galleries in Manila, the most recent of which is Sustainable Anxiety (2020) in Silverlens. 

    Early in 2022, Martinez had his first solo exhibition in Madrid entitled Underground Spiritual Unit at Galeria Yusto/Giner. In 2018, he had a solo exhibition in Indonesia. Titled Aesthetic Police, the exhibition is an outcome of his month-long residency program at OPQRStudio in Bandung.

    Pow Martinez lives and works in Manila, Philippines.

An interesting consequence of the development of oil paint tubes was that it allowed more artists to explore the outdoors and paint within the landscape. Prior to this, painters had to grind raw pigments to mix their own colors, making the idea of painting outside the studio somewhat inconvenient. Eventually becoming known as the En Plein Air School, these “landscape portraiture” painters aimed to capture nature under the changing qualities of light, in swift and loose brushwork, favoring softness over precision, impression over detail.

I find my thoughts drifting to this moment in Painting’s history as I talk with Pow Martinez about his upcoming show, Clunker. Half-jokingly, he suggests he’s just doing “what a nature painter might do in a digital landscape.” While the landscape painters of yore yearned to be outside, safety precautions of the past two years forced everyone, not just painters, to spend extended periods indoors. Confined in our domestic spaces, deprived of seemingly mundane things like everyday interaction and natural light, most of us turned heavily to our digital devices to afford us a glimpse of the outside world and keep us remotely in touch with friends and kin. This realm of the digital is the landscape that Pow navigates, wading through pages and scrolling endless feeds across multiple screens in search of that moment, that perfect frame to be captured by a screenshot. 

Rejecting learned notions of skill or mastery, Pow celebrates the pleasure of painting as a primarily physical and analog act. Favoring the unsophisticated over the belabored, his works exude an air of innocence and play, scattered with a dose of mischief.  His more recent pieces, smaller in scale and done in water-based acrylics on paper, take his pursuit of “painting in a direct and honest way” further and perhaps designed to mute the residual romantic sensibilities associated with thickly slathered oil paint. In parts resembling single-frame comics, 8-bit graphic art, and adult magazine illustrations, the works on paper feature a larger cast of characters ranging from knights, soldiers, drifters, and cavemen, to angels, gods, monsters, and ghosts. Caught in unintelligible scenarios, their juxtapositions perhaps make sense as random snapshots of an upturned and jumbled museum. 

The larger canvases broadly feature a more recognizable figure in Pow’s body of work: though seemingly donning several personas, he remains unmistakable in each iteration. Set apart by the signature mullet, blank stare, and the permanently gaped expression of a blow-up doll, this unnamed character calls to mind that familiar ‘80s era fun uncle who never bought into the 9-to-5 lifestyle, and so just happens to be always at home. Personally, the paintings remind me of the feel and atmosphere of obscure Americana, gleaned from years if not decades of watching road movies and screwball comedies conjured by the likes of the Coen Brothers and Harmony Korine, all the way through the present-day YouTube blackholes, WorldStar clips and “fail vids.” It also brings to mind stories of musicians or comedians on tour, performing in dingy dive bars and staying in roadside motels as they travel across the States, doing the grind. 

Lodged in their respective rooms, the protagonists in Self-Portrait April 12, 2022 and Solitary Confinement enact the strange contortions of the sedentary body; isolated, inert, and slowly melding and disappearing into the contours and habits of the furniture. Further still, the solitary figure in falling down has been totally removed from any context of place and merely laid out naked, with an impossibly twisted torso and limbs and digits stretched out. With no couch to melt into, his body is seemingly being pushed directly against glass, perhaps from the other side of the screen, aching to break out. 

– Gary-Ross Pastrana

Pow Martinez (b. 1983) is a recipient of the 2010 Ateneo Art Award for his exhibition 1 Billion Years at West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media, from painting to sound. His recent exhibitions include City Prince/sses (2019) at Palais de Tokyo in Paris; Art Jakarta 2019 with Silverlens and ROH Projects; 50 Years in Hollywood (2019) at Pinto Art Museum in New York; Art Basel Hong Kong 2019 with Silverlens; WXXX (2019), West Gallery, Manila; Art Taipei 2017WASAK! Reloaded (2016) in Arndt, Singapore; and WASAK! (2016) in Arndt, Berlin. Martinez has also held a number of solo shows in major galleries in Manila, the most recent of which is Sustainable Anxiety (2020) in Silverlens. 

Early in 2022, Martinez had his first solo exhibition in Madrid entitled Underground Spiritual Unit at Galeria Yusto/Giner. In 2018, he had a solo exhibition in Indonesia. Titled Aesthetic Police, the exhibition is an outcome of his month-long residency program at OPQRStudio in Bandung.

Pow Martinez lives and works in Manila, Philippines.

Works

Pow Martinez
puff, gasp
2022
9685
2
acrylic on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
1
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Pow Martinez
Self portrait April 12, 2022
2022
9686
2
oil on canvas
48h x 48w in • 121.92h x 121.92w cm
1
0.00
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Pow Martinez
drifter
2022
9687
2
acrylic on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
1
0.00
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0
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Pow Martinez
mercenary
2022
9688
2
acrylic on canvas
72h x 60w in • 182.88h x 152.40w cm
1
0.00
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0
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Pow Martinez
the weight of the world
2022
9689
2
acrylic on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
1
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Pow Martinez
falling down
2022
9690
2
oil on canvas
72h x 60w in • 182.88h x 152.40w cm
0
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0
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Pow Martinez
Palace Guard
2022
9691
2
oil on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
1
0.00
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0
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Pow Martinez
good conversation is hard to find in this town
2022
9692
2
acrylic on canvas
72h x 72w in • 182.88h x 182.88w cm
1
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0
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Pow Martinez
funny Games
2022
9693
2
oil on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
0
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
Solitary Confinement
2022
9694
2
oil on canvas
60h x 72w in • 152.40h x 182.88w cm
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
Inner Voice
2022
9695
2
oil on canvas
60h x 60w in • 152.40h x 152.40w cm
1
0.00
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Installation Views

Works

Pow Martinez
second nature 2
2022
9600
2
acrylic on paper
25.59h x 19.69w in • 65h x 50w cm (unframed) 26.57h x 20.87w in • 67.50h x 53w cm (framed)
1
0.00
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 16
2022
9614
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.09h x 13.11w in • 48.50h x 33.30w cm (framed)
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 6
2022
9604
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.85h x 12.95w in • 42.80h x 32.90w cm (framed)
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 22
2022
9620
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.09h x 13.11w in • 48.50h x 33.30w cm (framed)
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 19
2022
9617
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.09h x 13.11w in • 48.50h x 33.30w cm (framed)
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 20
2022
9618
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.09h x 13.11w in • 48.50h x 33.30w cm (framed)
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 23
2022
9621
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.06h x 13.15w in • 48.40h x 33.40w cm (framed)
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 12
2022
9610
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.81h x 12.99w in • 42.70h x 33w cm (framed)
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 24
2022
9622
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm
0
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 4
2022
9602
2
acrylic on paper
25.59h x 19.69w in • 65h x 50w cm (unframed) 26.57h x 20.87w in • 67.50h x 53w cm (framed)
1
0.00
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 11
2022
9609
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm
0
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 15
2022
9613
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.02h x 13.07w in • 48.30h x 33.20w cm (framed)
1
0.00
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Pow Martinez
second nature 8
2022
9606
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.77h x 12.99w in • 42.60h x 33w cm (framed)
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 10
2022
9608
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.81h x 12.99w in • 42.70h x 33w cm (framed)
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 5
2022
9603
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm
0
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 13
2022
9611
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.81h x 12.91w in • 42.70h x 32.80w cm (framed)
1
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Pow Martinez
second nature 17
2022
9615
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 7
2022
9605
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 18
2022
9616
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm
2
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 3
2022
9601
2
acrylic on paper
25.59h x 19.69w in • 65h x 50w cm (unframed) 26.57h x 20.83w in • 67.50h x 52.90w cm (framed)
1
0.00
0
Details
Pow Martinez
second nature 9
2022
9607
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.81h x 12.99w in • 42.70h x 33w cm (framed)
1
0.00
PHP
0
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Pow Martinez
second nature 21
2022
9619
2
acrylic on paper
17.95h x 12.01w in • 45.60h x 30.50w cm (unframed) 19.09h x 13.11w in • 48.50h x 33.30w cm (framed)
1
0.00
0
Details
Pow Martinez
second nature 14
2022
9612
2
acrylic on paper
15.67h x 11.85w in • 39.80h x 30.10w cm (unframed) 16.81h x 12.99w in • 42.70h x 33w cm (framed)
1
0.00
PHP
0
Details
Pow Martinez
second nature 1
2022
9599
2
acrylic on paper
25.59h x 19.69w in • 65h x 50w cm (unframed) 26.57h x 20.79w in • 67.50h x 52.80w cm (framed)
1
0.00
0
Details
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