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Leigh Martin’s Glowing Textured Tunnels of Light

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Leigh Martin, Mass (#10), 2016, acrylic on linen, 170 x 165 cm Leigh Martin, Mass (#9), 2016, acrylic on linen, 80 x 75 cm Leigh Martin: Mass (#9), 2016, acrylic on linen, 80 x 75 cm; Mass (#10), 2016, acrylic on linen, 170 x 165 cm Leigh Martin, Mass (#12), 2016, acrylic on linen, 56 x 50 cm Leigh Martin, Mass (#7), 2016, acrylic on linen, 80 x 75 cm Leigh Martin, Mass (#8), 2016, acrylic on linen, 170 x 165 cm Leigh Martin, Untitled #73, 2013 - 2016, acrylic on linen, 120 x 115 cm Leigh Martin: mass (#10), 2016, acrylic on linen, 170 x 165 cm; Untitled #73, 2013 - 2016, acrylic on linen, 120 x 115 cm Leigh Martin, Untitled #73, 2013 - 2016, acrylic on linen, 120 x 115 cm

The dark areas vary in their positioning from painting to painting so that there are unpredictable spatial tensions within the finely grained interiors and around the perimeters. Sometimes the interiors are simple, even arranged as gridded vertical columns of descending light, and sometimes they are surprisingly complex: slightly choppy and asymmetrical, as if the centres have been fragmented and shuffled around, with slivers of white light peeking through.

Auckland

 

Leigh Martin
Mass

 

4 February - 5 March 2016

In this new suite of paintings Leigh Martin moves well away from the viscous fibreglassy surface (for yacht hulls) he was once preoccupied with, towards much thinner paint that has a subtly shimmering iridescent underpainting, but which now seems to tonally allude to more traditional painters like Fomison. The texture of the woven linen is currently a crucial factor, with its specks and delicate linear patterns forming a matrix so textural repetitions are accentuated. So too is the gorgeous glowing light, emitting from each rectangular plane with its darkened borders.

These six works have a tunnel-like quality as you optically advance through each centre, immersing yourself in the speckled weave. Standing back however, and looking at the dark shapes hovering on the walls, the rectangles flatten out so that the reverse happens and the light advances towards you or turns into a pillar: a flickering radiating pulse soaked into the intricate filmy fabric.

The dark areas vary in their positioning from painting to painting so that there are unpredictable spatial tensions within the finely grained interiors and around the perimeters. Sometimes the interiors are simple, even arranged as gridded vertical columns of descending light, and sometimes they are surprisingly complex: slightly choppy and asymmetrical, as if the centres have been fragmented and shuffled around, with slivers of white light peeking through.

Martin‘s colours for the outer thin washes tend to be tertiary or secondary, variations of brown or purple that - overlaying stacked up splintery striations - possibly allude to landscape, unlike the saturated, more synthetic, fruitier hues of earlier works. There is a woody ambience, a sense of timberish texture, a densely compacted grain from the linen that for Martin is a new form of pleasure that caresses the exploring and traversing eye - as it swims through myriad dissolving waves of thin and horizontal, floating particles.

John Hurrell

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