The work of Javier Martin reaches out to you in many ways. His early painting and digital print work merges ‘iconic’ fashion imagery, taken by himself, with brand imagery and currency. The model’s eyes are covered signifying some sort of ‘blindness’ towards the subject matter Martin wishes to convey. With similar messages, Marin’s installations and sculpture takes a more minimalist route in regards to aesthetic and visual quality.
Favouring the colour white, Martin’s installations see the human form become a blank canvas – his figures, clothed fully in white from head to toe, make any signifiers of personality or identity unrecognisable: they become robotic, uniformed figures. This forces the viewer to focus upon the actions these figures engage in or the positions they are found in. For example, ‘Portrait Inverted’ sees a figure falling into, or out of, a framed white space on the wall. ‘Man that is born of the earth’ finds this figure with a wooden branch-like head protruding from the earth, on all fours, as if forcibly attached to the land.
Martin’s installations reflect the art onto the viewer: the art is as much about the viewer as it is about the artist or the art. Mirrors are frequently used by Martin to place the viewer in the artwork, as a central figure around which the concepts discussed revolve around. ‘Social Reflection’ sees another while figure with a mirror for a face begging for money on the street. ‘Money? Where? Money? Who? Money? I?’ finds a larger-than-life one dollar bill hanging on the wall, and where one would usually find George Washington, one discovers themselves surrounded by the ornate decoration upon the currency.
The use of material and form by Martin is clever in that it can often ‘trick’ the viewer into finding reality in a situation where there is trickery. The bending, melting and protruding of material in works such as ‘El Pacto’ or ‘Climate change of design’ creates new dimension to the work. This is to the point where the crafting of these objects so seamlessly is to be highly admired.
Whilst some of Martin’s earlier works deal with printed and painted mediums, all of his later works bring the artwork out further towards the viewer. In installation and sculptural works, this is most obvious, but even in other photographic work and painting or drawing, an effort has been made to make the work more 3-D. Martin’s ‘Print Cuts’ alter photographic material to form the figures photographed as a web of material. Keeping these images suspended away from the wall in the frame allows the light in a space to interact with this web, casting shadows. In ‘Blindness Light’, Martin attaches neon lighting to edited photographic portraits, to cover the eyes of the figure and follow various contours, playing with colour and light.
Martin’s attachment to the ‘iconic’ fashion and modelling imagery with his artistic alterations has seen him collaborate with several fashion and art-based publications, creating imagery that lends itself to the glossy printed format.