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Yours, KOW

, Chris Martin

Chris Martin

Sep 11 – Oct 24, 2010

DeutschEnglish

If Barnett Newman had listened more to James Brown records, perhaps his rigid “Zips” would have gotten a bit more swing–which would have given the elevated rhetoric of the color field painting certainly a bit more of a snap.

Hätte Barnett Newman mehr James Brown-Platten gehört, vielleicht hätte es die strengen Linien seiner „Zips“ zum Schwingen gebracht - was der Erhabenheitsrhetorik der Farbfeldmalerei sicher etwas Pepp verliehen hätte.

But for a long time, African American sounds and abstract painting were not to be put together. The high arts were still strictly separated from the popular arts and also politically they were not a good fit: During the Cold War abstract art embodied the supremacy of Western Modernism versus Socialist Realism, while black pop music for instance accelerated the March to Washington in 1963, the highlight of the protests against the racial segregation in the USA.

Chris Martin, born in 1954 in Washington D.C., was shaped by black music. “Dance” of 2008 can be formally considered as homage to Matisse, using the tools of color field painting. Then at the bottom of the 3,4 x 6,1m large canvas, there is a dedication to the grandchildren of James Brown, seventies pioneers and eighties icons of Hip Hop and Rap: Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Kool Moe Dee and others. They made the spoken-song from the ghettos popular, invented DJ-ing and sampling–techniques of the postmodern culture. Further, the inscription involves the Swedish artist, spiritualist, and anthroposophist Hilma af Klint (1862−1944), Alfred Jensen (1903−1981), a classic representative of the New York School as well as his lesser known contemporaries Paul Feeley (1910−1966) and Myron Stout (1908−1987).

Aber lange konnten afroamerikanische Sounds und abstrakte Malerei nicht zusammenfinden. Weil man noch streng die hohen von den populären Künsten trennte, aber auch politisch passten beide nicht recht zusammen: Während die Abstraktion im Kalten Krieg die Überlegenheit der westlichen Moderne gegenüber dem Sozialistischen Realismus zu verkörpern hatte, beflügelte die schwarze Popmusik z.B. den „Marsch auf Washington“ 1963, Höhepunkt der Proteste gegen die Rassentrennung in den USA.

Für Chris Martin, 1954 in Washington D.C. geboren, war die schwarze Musik prägend. „Dance“ von 2008 ist formal betrachtet eine Hommage an Matisse mit den Mitteln der Farbfeldmalerei. Am unteren Bildrand aber ist die 3,4 x 6,1 Meter große Leinwand den Enkeln James Browns gewidmet, 70er-Jahre-Pionieren und 80er-Jahre-Ikonen des Hip Hop und des Rap: Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Kool Moe Dee u.a. Sie machten den Sprechgesang aus den Großstadtghettos populär, erfanden das DJ-ing und das Sampling − Kulturtechniken der Postmoderne. Weiter umfasst die Widmung die schwedische Malerin, Spiritistin und Anthroposophin Hilma af Klint (1862−1944), Alfred Jensen (1903−1981), einen klassischen Vertreter der New York School, sowie dessen weniger bekannte Zeitgenossen Paul Feeley (1910−1966) und Myron Stout (1908−1987).

Chris Martin, Psilocybin, 2004, Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 cm, Installation view, gallery facade
DeutschEnglish

Does it need more than a hand full of psilocybin mushrooms, those which often glisten from Martin’s paintings and a pile of good records to tune in?

Dafür braucht es vielleicht nur eine Handvoll Psilocybinpilze, die oft aus Martins Bildern funkeln, und ein paar gute Platten.

Since the mid nineties, Martin has often dedicated his canvases to artist colleagues he esteemed and honored as painters or as musicians–pop stars as well as those who were and are outside of the mainstream. Sometimes, as is the case withMichael Jackson, James Brown or Frank Moore, the inventor of the Red Ribbon for Aids solidarity, on the occasion of their deaths. Such dedications make Martin’s large-sized compositions rise from a societal foundation. They are gestures of devotion and solidarity. At the same time they disrespect any purity requirements of monochrome or color field painting. The names are rudely placed into the image’s space, right next to glued-in money coins, vinyls, banana peals, and newspaper articles.

In spite of the rugged, through and through profane image surfaces, for more than 30 years Martin’s work has been connecting to different traditions of spiritual abstraction, for which New York, where Martin has been living since 1975, was the melting pot. Martin considers Indian folklore, Buddhist and Christian mystic or anthroposophist symbols, as well as the “Spiritual Landscapes” of the North American Romanticism, quite unknown in Europe. But especially in the sanctuary of modern abstraction, in the aesthetics of the sublime, Chris Martin poaches without reservation. He allows for the Pop Art heritage to rule in this domain where things often appear ethereal. Even here, especially here, he embraces the fusion of high and low as well as the trivialization of the image. Since for the human mind to meet its borders and to shiver in humility, does it need more than a hand full of psilocybin mushrooms, those which often glisten from Martin’s paintings and a pile of good records to tune in? Chris Martin contradicts the idea that the higher the art reaches, the thinner the air gets. Where things lift off the air gets thick.

Chris Martin lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a regular writer for The Brooklyn Rail, where he has published interviews with Brice Marden, Leon Golub, James Siena, Helmut Federle and others (www.brooklynrail.org). We show his first monographic exhibition outside the US.

Text and photos: Alexander Koch / Translation: Staphanie Berger

In seinen Bildern seit Mitte der 90er-Jahre hat Martin immer wieder geschätzten und verehrten Künstlerkolleginnen und -kollegen aus Malerei und Musik seine Reverenz erwiesen: Popgrößen ebenso wie solchen, die neben dem Mainstream lagen und liegen. Manchmal, wie bei Michael Jackson, James Brown oder Frank Moore, dem Erfinder der roten Aids-Solidaritäts-Schleife „Red Ribbon“, anlässlich ihres Todes. Solche Widmungen stellen Martins großflächige Kompositionen auf das Fundament eines sozialen Bezugsrahmens, sind Gesten der Andacht und der Solidarität. Zugleich brechen sie mit jedem Reinheitsgebot der Farbfeldmalerei und der Monochromie. Die Namen stehen sperrig und rau im Bildraum gleich neben eingeklebten Geldstücken, Schallplatten, Bananenschalen und Zeitungsartikeln.

Trotz der ruppigen, ganz und gar profanen Bildoberflächen knüpft Martins Werk seit über 30 Jahren an verschiedene Traditionslinien der spirituellen Abstraktion an, für die New York, wo Martin seit 1975 lebt, Schmelztiegel war. Auf indianische Folklore, buddhistische und christliche Mystik oder anthroposophische Symbole greift Martin ebenso zurück wie auf die „Spiritual Landscapes“ der in Europa wenig bekannten nordamerikanischen Romantik. Aber ausgerechnet im Heiligtum der modernen Abstraktion - der Ästhetik des Sublimen - wildert Chris Martin vorbehaltlos und lässt das Erbe der Pop Art - die Fusion von High und Low und die Trivialisierung des Bildes - auch hier gelten, wo es sonst schnell ätherisch wird. Denn damit der menschliche Verstand an seine Grenzen stößt und in Demut erschauert, dafür braucht es vielleicht nur eine Handvoll Psilocybinpilze, die oft aus Martins Bildern funkeln, und ein paar gute Platten. Dass die Luft dünn wird, wenn die Kunst ans Höchste langt, dem jedenfalls widerspricht Chris Martin. Da wird die Luft erst dick.

Chris Martin lebt in Brooklyn, New York. Er schreibt regelmäßig für „The Brooklyn Rail“, wo er u.a. Interviews mit Brice Marden, Leon Golub, James Siena und Helmut Federle publizierte (www.brooklynrail.org). Wir zeigen seine erste monographische Ausstellung außerhalb der USA.

Text und Fotos: Alexander Koch

Chris Martin, exhibition view from the street, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, Psilocybin, 2004, Oil on canvas, 36 x 28 cm, Installation view, gallery facade
Chris Martin, exhibition view from the street, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, exhibition view from the street, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, Dance, 2006–2008, Oil, mixed media and collage on canvas, 338 x 610 cm
Chris Martin, Farewell Godfather of Soul, 2007, Oil and collage on canvas, 152 x 163 cm, detail
Chris Martin, Dance, 2006–2008, Oil, mixed media and collage on canvas, 338 x 610 cm, detail
Chris Martin, Dance, 2006–2008, Oil, mixed media and collage on canvas, 338 x 610 cm, detail
Chris Martin, Untitled (Magenta and Yellow), 2008, Spray paint on canvas, 89 x 74 cm, Installation view, gallery backyard
Chris Martin, exhibition view from backyard, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, exhibition view, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, exhibition view, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, 3AM..., 2004–2008, Oil on canvas, 343 x 300 cm, detail
Chris Martin, 3AM..., 2004–2008, Oil on canvas, 343 x 300 cm, detail
Chris Martin, High Noon at Manikarnika Ghat (Dedicated to Frank Moore), 2002–2003, Oil on canvas, 360 x 300 cm
Chris Martin, exhibition view, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, exhibition view, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, exhibition view, KOW, 2010
Chris Martin, Mushrooms, 2004–2008, Oil, collage and spray paint on canvas, 84 x 66 cm
Chris Martin, High Noon at Manikarnika Ghat (Dedicated to Frank Moore), 2002–2003, Oil on canvas, 360 x 300 cm
Chris Martin, Self-portrait (40 Anos de Experiencia), 2007-2008, Oil, glitter, gel medium and collage on canvas, 74 x 64 cm
Chris Martin, Yellow Form (Giant Mushroom Cloud at the End of the World), 2002–2008, Oil, gel medium and collaged apricots on canvas, 28 x 36 cm
Chris Martin, Sunrise Asi Ghat Varanasi, 2003–2004, Oil on canvas, 41 x 51 cm
Chris Martin, Mushrooms, 2004–2008, Oil, collage and spray paint on canvas, 84 x 66 cm
Chris Martin, Untitled, 2005–2008, Oil and mixed media on canvas, 343 x 279 cm
Chris Martin, Rev. Al in Mourning, 2006–2007, Oil and collage on canvas, 51 x 41 cm
Chris Martin, Farewell Godfather of Soul, 2007, Oil and collage on canvas, 152 x 163 cm, detail
Chris Martin, Motown Music and the Astral Plane, 2007–2008, Mixed media, oil and collage on canvas, 122 x 97 cm

Current

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  • 2012
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  • 2009

Current

Upcoming

2019

Contribution to Light. The Early Works of Barbara Hammer

, Barbara Hammer
Sep 14, 2018 – Jan 31, 2019

2018

Renn lieber, renn

, Marinella Senatore
Sep 8 – Nov 10, 2018

EL OTRO, EL MISMO / THE OTHER, THE SAME

, Los Carpinteros
Apr 28 – Jul 21, 2018

Maskirovka

, Tobias Zielony
Mar 24 – Apr 15, 2018

Double Bodies

, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger
Feb 10 – Mar 17, 2018

Hotel Résistance

, Ahmet Öğüt
Nov 25, 2017 – Jan 28, 2018

2017

Michael E. Smith

, Michael E. Smith
Sep 16 – Nov 5, 2017

Love Story

, Candice Breitz
Apr 29 – Jul 30, 2017

On the Possibility of Light

, Chto Delat
Feb 18 – Apr 9, 2017

On Fear and Education, Disenchantment and Justice, Protest and Disunion in Saxony / Germany

, Mario Pfeifer
Dec 1, 2016 – Apr 15, 2017

The Cabinet of Ramon Haze

Nov 19, 2016 – Jan 29, 2017

Things, Not Words

, Heinrich Dunst
Nov 19, 2016 – Jan 29, 2017

2016

Barbara Hammer & Oswald Oberhuber

, Barbara Hammer, Oswald Oberhuber
Sep 17 – Nov 6, 2016

Out Of The Dark

, Chto Delat, Alice Creischer, Eugenio Dittborn, Heinrich Dunst, Barbara Hammer, Hiwa K, Renzo Martens, Chris Martin, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, Mario Pfeifer, Dierk Schmidt, Tina Schulz, Michael E. Smith, Franz Erhard Walther, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Tobias Zielony
Jun 26 – Jul 31, 2016

The Citizen

, Tobias Zielony
Apr 30 – Jun 12, 2016

This Lemon Tastes of Apple

, Hiwa K
Apr 30 – Jun 12, 2016

Broken Windows 6.3

, Dierk Schmidt
Mar 12 – Apr 16, 2016

Cast Behind You The Bones Of Your Mother

, Clemens von Wedemeyer
Dec 19, 2015 – Feb 27, 2016

2015

Left To Our Own Devices

Sep 17 – Dec 5, 2015

A Summer Of Films

, Chto Delat, Alice Creischer, Eugenio Dittborn, Heinrich Dunst, Barbara Hammer, Renzo Martens, Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, Mario Pfeifer, Tina Schulz, Michael E. Smith, Franz Erhard Walther, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Tobias Zielony
Jun 28 – Jul 26, 2015

Approximation In The Digital Age To A Humanity Condemned To Disappear

, Mario Pfeifer
May 2 – Jun 25, 2015

A Lucky Day

, Renzo Martens
May 2 – Jul 26, 2015

Time Capsule

, Chto Delat
Feb 28 – Apr 18, 2015

Have A Crush

, Barbara Hammer
Jan 10 – Feb 14, 2015

Dream Lovers

, Tobias Zielony
Dec 6, 2014 – Feb 14, 2015

2014

Dämmstoffe

, Heinrich Dunst
Nov 1 – Dec 18, 2014

Pinturas Aeropostales

, Eugenio Dittborn
Sep 13 – Nov 23, 2014

Cool Drink on a Hot Day

, Chris Martin
May 3 – Jul 27, 2014

In The Stomach Of The Predators

, Alice Creischer
Mar 1 – Apr 19, 2014

2013

Körperformen

, Franz Erhard Walther
Nov 30 – Feb 13, 2013

40 cbm Of Earth From The Iberian Peninsula

Sep 14 – Oct 30, 2013

, Michael E. Smith

Michael E. Smith II
Apr 27 – Jul 13, 2013

Dignity

, Barbara Hammer
Feb 16 – Apr 14, 2013

Believers

, Alice Creischer, Chto Delat, Michael E. Smith, Franz Erhard Walther, Tobias Zielony
Nov 10, 2012 – Feb 3, 2013

2012

Im Archipel

Sep 8 – Oct 21, 2012

Das Etablissement der Tatsachen The Establishment of Matters of Fact

, Alice Creischer
Apr 27 – Jul 22, 2012

Manitoba

, Tobias Zielony
Feb 3 – Apr 15, 2012

Tina Schulz

, Tina Schulz
Nov 5, 2011 – Jan 28, 2012

2011

A Formal Film In Nine Episodes, Prologue & Epilogue

, Mario Pfeifer
Sep 10 – Oct 28, 2011

Social Violence

Apr 30 – Jul 29, 2011

Barbara Hammer

, Barbara Hammer
Feb 12 – Mar 17, 2011

Franz Erhard Walther

, Franz Erhard Walther
Nov 6, 2010 – Feb 11, 2011

2010

Chris Martin

, Chris Martin
Sep 11 – Oct 24, 2010

Michael E. Smith

, Michael E. Smith
Jun 12 – Jul 25, 2010

Vele, Zgora

, Tobias Zielony
May 1 – Jun 5, 2010

The Fourth Wall

, Clemens von Wedemeyer
Jan 23 – Apr 22, 2010

Antirepresentationalism 3: Issues of Empathy Conceptual and Socially oriented Art in Leipzig 1997–2009

, Mario Pfeifer, Tina Schulz, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Tobias Zielony
Nov 28, 2009 – Jan 15, 2010

2009

Antirepresentationalism 2: Trouble with Realism. Conceptual and Socially oriented Art in Leipzig 1997–2009

, Mario Pfeifer, Tina Schulz, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Tobias Zielony
Oct 17 – Nov 21, 2009

Antirepresentationalism 1: Politics of Redescription. Conceptual and Socially oriented Art in Leipzig 1997–2009

, Mario Pfeifer, Tina Schulz, Clemens von Wedemeyer
Sep 4 – Oct 10, 2009

KOW ISSUE 5: Spirituality and Anti-Universalism

, Chris Martin
May 1 – May 30, 2009

KOW ISSUE 4: THE SOCIAL USE OF SIGNS (OBLIGATION TO EXPRESS)

, Tina Schulz
Apr 3 – Apr 27, 2009

KOW ISSUE 3: Detroits' Post-Fordism

, Michael E. Smith
Mar 27 – Mar 29, 2009

KOW ISSUE 1: Participatory Minimalism

, Franz Erhard Walther
Feb 27 – Mar 21, 2009

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