Simon Martin’s work reveals to us an energetic force about which we are usually not aware, as we go about our everyday lives. Stand before these photographic works and you experience a singular emotion, the quality of which is difficult to define. It could be described as a contemplative interlude, a space in the mind, an epiphany, or, a moment of grace. How does Martin evoke this reaction? Certainly, his work can be described as vibrant, a visual representation of a strong emotion, a force within us or one just beyond our grasp.
Rust Landscape, photograph on Alu Diabond, 2011 evokes a vibrant, fiery landscape of vivid rusty oranges, reds & browns with contrasting textural blues. At its core is strength, depth & some mystery. Purples, reds, yellows & whites - colour, as with all Martin’s works, is the fundamental means to the end. These images display a luminous, ethereal quality. However, it is perhaps their engagement with the human emotions of loss, power, love, spirituality and passion that gives these pieces their particular power to move.
My first experience of Martin’s works was on a typical grey English day in an ordinary suburban town and was a contrast to the ordinary. The work, Red Mercury II, photograph Alu Diabond, 2010 provokes an immediate emotional reaction and a motivation to see. An energetic, evocative, and refreshing abstract work in red metallic colours.
Martin achieves this effect by utilising acrylic inks – dripping, splashing merging & colliding colour liquids to create ‘inkscapes’ of abstraction which he then photographs. Often adding sand, metal, paper and fabric in alchemical process which is photographed to capture moments in time. The images depict the tension between perfection and imperfection, precision and disorder. The abstraction of texture, colour & form challenges the viewer, to share in the conveyance of an experience, an invitation to contemplate, to really see. To see beyond, with the inner eye, the conversation that is art.
Martin’s interests in music, astronomy, in fractals (a curve or geometric figure each part has the same statistical character as the whole – e.g. snowflakes), the quantum world, metaphysics and the extraordinary significance of human existence informs much of his work. Experiences with depression & anxiety are significant influences. The need to explore boundaries and margins between what is real & imagined compels Martin to depict the abstract experience on canvas and through photography.
Why astronomy? Because, despite the unimaginable size of the cosmos, or the ridiculously small quantum world, we are profoundly significant to both. Art promotes & elevates us from mere existence to experiential joy. Depicting this joy and energy in his art is Martin’s purpose.
Writing in Moments in Time: On Narration and Slowness, the catalogue for an exhibition of video artists addressing issues of time in video art, Susanne Gaensheimer says: "it is the change in our conventional narrative and temporal structures in particular which interrupts the flow of familiar perceptive mechanisms, allowing a free space to emerge."1 Gaensheimer's "free space" is similar to the feeling evoked in Martin’s works.
Through his works, Martin encourages us to open up our mind to what we see, experience & feel. Most miracles in life are invisible because we chose them to be, Martin invites the viewer to take a moment to indulge the artistic conversation, to look closely & choose to see.
1 Susanne Gaensheimer, "Moments in Time," in Moments in Time: On Narration and Slowness, ed. by Helmut Friedel (Munich: Lehnbachhaus, 2000), pp.49-50.
Simon Martin’s work, Rust Landscape, is currently on show at The Little Cheshire Gallery, in Nantwich, Cheshire until 30 September 2019
To see more of Simon Martin’s work, please visit his website: