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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CYBORG SCALLOPS


Pow Martinez's CYBORG SCALLOPS Opening on March 15, Thursday at Silverlens Slab

Immediately, a shock from this colorful apocalypse puts its tongue in your mouth that searches for cool memory tied to a vast archive of electronic pleasure. The erotic nerve of the picture, that of paint made flesh, blends the skins of various pigments into orgasms of delight, producing corpulent bulges of thick wet paint, sticky sweat from the oily medium, coupled with penetrating lunges of gesture that aim for the work’s central essence. Pow Martinez approaches his work with such incredible painterly gusto matched only by the grave seriousness he ponders on his craft. Thus, agony and ecstasy appear to be the constant torturers surrounding his work. Under his gaze, painting becomes a vexed solitary activity that traverses the void of unknowing, which is a mindless gap of despair, wailing an incomprehensible silent abstraction of a secret language hostile to the uninitiated, with panic stricken gasps approaching near death experience, in order to coax the phantasms of the mind to congeal, to reveal what the artist sees for himself alone, towards an awareness of negative reality, where things appear as what they truly are as soulless robotic slaves served to the indulgences of fate and to the cold indifference of destiny. Painting here becomes this one conscious subversion against a multitude of ideational contrivances - prosthetics for the unimaginative beasts. Consequently, Martinez smears the paint with wild abandon, in haphazard fashion, carefree of where it would go and what it would hit in an effort to cover the great divide that conceals the emptiness within brought about by this culture of control. The canvas, this barren landscape of blind hope, white light/white noise, shimmering spectral spots, pouring, sinking into one’s skin, impregnating the empty vessel with atomic probes that vibrate so as to explore territorial hunger, filling the cavities with a deafening sound, while expanding to explode this physical chamber, this body. Paint lines scurry and hiss across the color expanse to bind it from disintegrating into virtual dust, tracing the very structure of its existence into vestiges of pure horror. Faces eroding from their waxen entombment, washed by the acid of dumb life, emerge grinning, grimacing, staring, born naked into a second life. Martinez presents a sardonic image of humanity as bags of flesh with primary motor functions minus the codified programming that reduce it to ostensible communal value.

In a manner to contest the artificiality of the social-surround, Martinez creates this painterly world of noise experience, using his medium like a time bomb (as painting is time based with its ramifications felt well into the future) set to explode the aesthetic conventions of taste and cultural consciousness, scattering its remains to restructure a new image perfect for this eschatological moment. The optical noise resonating from Martinez’ paintings disengages the dullness of existence from its still life, jamming the codes of social control that program mechanical lives and toward states of unpredictability. This interferential rattle, which blocks the transmission of subliminal messages via cultural jamming, prevents sense from being made through a hiccup of sensations that never quite return to its norm, producing instead a mutational parody of itself reincarnated in cartoon form. What stays is this abominable registration in lieu of the original standard, which opens the way for the questioning of what was once deemed to be common experience. Noise is therefore the other, which Martinez’ works inevitably portray; hence, it is situated outside of us, as man made constructs of artificial energy that dictate the flows of information and communication, filling the compositional space with non-sense, with synthetic memory, that alter the perception of the world and its meaning around us, transforming ourselves into cybernetic organisms, into the other. To consider, the universal view of art is to present things to be harmonious, beautiful, and pleasing to the senses in order to sustain the ideals we want to hold dear in life. In other words, to affirm and to preserve life’s apparent meaning. But art’s immanent desire is to destroy, and through Martinez’ works, to negate a false sense of this world by way of hysterical representations to elicit the confrontation of our primal fears. But, the working out of this fear through art creates another space of recuperation, that of laughter and coping. Thus, Martinez’ visual noise deals with the extreme states of life: terror, pain, suffering, anger, despair, all of which expose the fantasy of humanist confidence, of a night that will eventually end, when we begin to wake.

“Cyborg Scallops” at SLAB Gallery is an escalation of Pow Martinez’ vision of the apocalypse rendered with hellish pop expressionism. The series features mutant figurations and monster mash- ups strewn allover barren landscapes of irradiated hues that paint the end of the world with sarcastic wit and gallows humor. Martinez runs counter to the local tradition and practice of rote rendering of religious figures and scenes, first by employing heavy viscous paint laid expressively on the surface that creates the work’s powerful verve; and second, by populating his paintings with mostly deformities of a monstrous, extraterrestrial, and demonic kind. Martinez revels in all this absurdity, and with a heretic’s attitude attacks the towers of taste and conventional value.

Pow Martinez’s Cyborg Scallops opens on March 15, 2012 at Silverlens SLab, simultaneously with Jake Verzosa’s Harbinger at Silverlens Gallery and Maria Taniguchi’s Untitled (Celestial Motors) in Silverlens 20SQUARE. All shows run until April 14, 2012.
Exhibition made possible in part with support from Pablo Gallery.
Words by Arvin Flores; Image: Pow Martinez, pink man, 2012

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