Lush and breezy, Saskatchewan-born painter Heather Gwen Martin’s latest biomorphic abstracts are currently making waves at Venice Beach’s L.A. Louver Gallery. This much-anticipated showing of over a dozen brand-new works–aptly titled Currents–captures the vibrant energy of downtown Los Angeles, Martin’s current residence.
Known to draw inspiration from both nature and technology, Martin is also a successor to a long line of abstractionists. Her bodily forms are reminiscent of Arshile Gorky, while her eye-catching blend of vivid hues echoes the hard-edge movement of the 1960s. Her artistic process involves priming her linen canvases with an oil wash and thin coat of paint, allowing the rough texture of the fabric to shine through. She then adds an array of wandering, sinuous forms on top, creating a sense of three-dimensionality and breaking the first rule of abstraction–flatness.
As one of the highlights of this exhibition, “Higher” (2017) perfectly exemplifies Martin’s exploration of composition and depth. Its blood-red background and jet-black organic forms recede while splashes of baby blue, lime green, pastel pink, and taxi cab yellow jut outwards into the audience’s space. Although the different elements of this work seem to move in opposite directions, they are all connected by the thinnest of lines.
In “Breather” (2017), we see a much smaller and subtler composition with understated blush tones punctuated with canary yellow and the darkest of greens. With fewer biomorphic forms, this piece feels flatter than “Higher,” demonstrating Martin’s superb range.
Following in the footsteps of another Saskatchewan native and famed abstract painter, the late Agnes Martin, Heather Gwen Martin approaches her paintings with a sense of mindfulness and allows the subconscious to guide her art making. Visualizing her thought patterns as currents of electricity, Martin walks the viewer through a variety of mental states, from small moments of serenity to expansive moments of great passion and depth.
Heather Gwen Martin: Currents
Through January 6, 2018
45 North Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291