The Orientalists and the Italian school can be seen to have inspired Mandy Martin’s latest series, a vibrant anthology of works reminiscent of Salvator Rosa and Poussin. With hints also of Claude Lorraine and Richard Wilson, these works are fresh and cannot be labelled as derivative, taking the best of the old to form a style uniquely her own.
Exhibition Dates: 7 September – 30 September 2006
The Orientalists and the Italian school can be seen to have inspired Mandy Martin’s latest series, a vibrant anthology of works reminiscent of Salvator Rosa and Poussin. With hints also of Claude Lorraine and Richard Wilson, these works are fresh and cannot be labelled as derivative, taking the best of the old to form a style uniquely her own. The restricted earth pigment palette familiar to us from Martin’s previous work has been complemented with Terre Verte and French Ultramarine. Heavily textured oil and oil medium washes are combined to create sensual, intriguing compositions that pull the eye towards translucent god-figures, hidden within the structure of the works. These figures are, in much the manner of the buildings in works of nineteenth century Venice, enveloped in an atmospheric relationship with their surrounds. Like the works of Venice more than a century ago, these are created with high-key colours, showing a different light and tonality for Martin.
The use of Asian god-figures, like the figures in her earlier Salvator Rosa series 1-V, can be seen as an important movement within Martin’s work. These figures, not specific to any particular faith, allow the mind to conjure self-referential connections, whether with Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or pagan spirits. The mythical nature of these monsters starkly contrasts the graceful flow of nature within which they are placed.
Martin says of this Salvadoresque series, “It was a revelation to me, that just as places in Australia were pictured and named in the nineteenth century by European Explorers with the paintings of Salvator Rosa, Poussin and Claude in mind, that so too did these same influences prevail in royal court mural painting in the Mekong Delta at that time. The artists who decorated Cambodian temples were influenced by the same Salvadoresque vogue. Concomitantly, on the other side of the world, their European contemporaries were influenced by Orientalism. This was a reciprocal colonial vogue and is still a transnational cultural continuum defining Australian culture now.”
Martin’s new series can thus be said to be the epitome of Australian Fusion art, as it takes the best of Western art culture with quirky Asian influences. Martin achieves this without losing a sense of the new and the different, blending cultures and crossing artistic borders.
—Eva Hamilton, 6/6/06
Mandy Martin has been exhibiting her work in and overseas for over twenty years. Her paintings are held by most state galleries as well as many regional galleries, corporate and important private collections in . Overseas holdings of her work include the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York. She was included in the exhibition Federation: Australian Art and Society 1901-2001 at the National Gallery of . Salvatoresque will be Martin’s eleventh solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.