Review of Dialectical Praxis by Delicious Line

Celia Johnson, Geatai, 2016, 16 x 14 inches, encaustic on wood panel

Celia Johnson, Geatai, 2016, 16 x 14 inches, encaustic on wood panel

In "Dialectical Praxis" at Fred Giampietro Gallery, two painters explore the fusion of action and thought.

Donald Martiny creates giant brushstrokes that are mounted on the wall with hidden aluminum brackets. Their large scale and pronounced dimensionality emphasize that a brushstroke is actually a record of movement, like a contrail from an airplane.

In encaustic paint on wood panels, Celia Johnson makes abstractions from shapes that are reminiscent of die-cast machine parts. The flat colors, sometimes transparent, more often opaque, are worn down in places, as though through repeated mechanical use. These worn spots reveal the layers below. The wood grain of the panels is left visible in places. Color theory weds with ideas about the physicality of objects and the way they respond to use.

As contemporary life becomes increasingly virtual, Martiny and Johnson assert that our very thoughts derive from our physical interaction with the material world.

Read the entire review by Ashley Norwood Cooper by clicking on the image.

From Charles A. Shepard III

In the 1950s, artists like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline elevated the gesture to the position of the protagonist in abstract expressionism.  In the 21st century, Donald Martiny advances that idea considerably further by freeing the gesture of gestural abstraction from the substrate which, heretofore, provided the context that brought gesture to life.  Working with polymers and dispersed pigments, Mr. Martiny has developed a methodology that enables him to isolate his sumptuous, almost sculptural, brushstrokes and lift them off the page, so to speak.  The nature of his material is such that Mr. Martiny can work in a much larger scale than if he were dependent on a canvas surface; indeed, each singular brushstroke might range from two- to as much as six-feet in length.  Installed, these compelling monochromatic gestures immediately breathe a new kind of life into the gallery space.

Historically, Mr. Martiny’s work to date fits right into the continuum of monochromatic painting, a contemporary reductive movement which has advanced the concerns and broadened the interests of the classic Minimalists of the 1960s and of the much earlier Suprematists, who openly sought the ‘death of painting” with their monochromatic efforts.  Mr. Martiny, belongs to a family of painters which includes such luminaries as Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella, and Olivier Mossett.  Quite amazingly, each of these distinguished artists brought something noticeably different to this admittedly singular and restrictive approach to painting.  Prior to Mr. Martiny, though, each of these other great painters relied on manipulating the relationship between canvas and pigment to achieve subtle, nuanced differences in each painting.  Mr. Martiny has greatly expanded the painterly agenda by taking the brushstroke completely off the canvas entirely.  I applaud his commitment to furthering the monochromatic agenda and his ability to make fresh, new work that acknowledges, rather than negates, decades of previous good work.  Rather than hastening the death of painting as Rodchenko forecast, monochromatic painting has already enjoyed a long life line and, in the hands of Donald Martiny, is clearly alive and well.   

Charles A. Shepard III
President and CEO
Fort Wayne Museum of Art

Review: Donald Martiny at George Lawson Gallery, LA

Donald Martiny's recent paintings are monochromatic works whose medium is a mixture of polymer and dispersed pigment.  Though he calls them paintings, they appear much like sculptures, as each one is a three dimensional, very physical representation of a brushstroke.  Here, painting is both the subject and content of the work, examining and exploring the anatomy of the size dimensions, and contours of an individual stroke of the brush.  Each work depicts a particular motion of the brush, giving each gesture an individual character, shape and identity.

Martiny's color palette is limited to the use of primary red, yellow, green or blue.  The sole variation on the theme of the brush stroke is size.  the works are either very large (83" x 45") or much smaller.  A large work like "Pigeon Lake" not only occupies much more space, but is more effective in portraying the visual detail, marks, and nuances that a brushstroke creates.  Te sum of the parts here is greater than the whole- echoing the manner in which each brushstroke has key significance in the developmnent of a painting.  And every painting is created with intention, one stroke at a time. By Cathy Breslaw for Artscene / Visual Art Source.