Donald Martiny interviewed by Matt Schaefer

MS:  So Donald, where was your last show?

DM:  I am showing currently in LA at the George Lawson Gallery.  Prior to that I showed at the Marlboro Gallery at Prince George Community College near Washington DC.

MS:  What are these made of?

DM:  They are a polymer mix and dispersed pigment.

MS:   How did you arrive at this point?  What was the "eureka" moment"?

DM:   I was struggling with my work.  I made a lot of de Kooning look-a-likes but got frustrated with the structure.  I would make grand gestures and then went back and tried to fix the edges and corners.  One day I just got rid of the ground (canvass). It took a while to figure out what I had done.  It freed the gesture to be what ever it wanted to be.   I think Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella were in the back of my mind.

MS:  Who else art historically were big influences?

DM:  I look at painting and sculpture a lot.  I used to travel quite a bit and whenever I did I always made time to visit museums and galleries.  I am a big fan of Velazquez.  I also looked a lot at the oil sketches by Rubens at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.  Obviously I also admire de Kooning, Lynda Benglis Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella, among others.

MS:  So are these representations of actual markings in paint?

DM:  No, absolutely not.  They are my own honest gestures.  I am not representing the gestures of other artists.

MS:  Let me rephrase.  Do you build these after smaller scale models?

DM:  I usually begin by making many small studies on paper.  Then I make small works based on the sketches.  These are finished works but they also work as maquettes or prototypes for larger works. When I work large I have a basic idea of color, feeling and shape but they never end up finally exactly as I had planned.   

MS:  Pretend you are talking to someone who has no idea about how to understand abstraction. In a few sentences, how would you guide them into understanding your work?

DM:  I simply want to create my own images rather than use existing images that may have baggage.  I want the images to speak for themselves rather than paint an actor.  I know I can paint a figure or landscape that feels a certain way.  But why not be more direct.  Rather than use the landscape, let  the painting itself evoke the feeling or experience.