Mandy Martin's current exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery includes six monumentally-scaled oil paintings that are a continuation of her four year Salvator Rosa project as well as a suite of smaller works on paper. Martin paints in the grand manner, harnessing the Romantic energies of both actual and mythical places. She paints the extraordinary features of landscapes—chasms, precipices and rocky prominences—communicating at once the metaphysics and architectonics of these geological structures to the viewer through her surfaces impastoed with ochres and pure, exposed pigments. Her paintings are imposing in their materiality; she shows us that the painted surface is itself an escarpment.
Martin's large canvases bring together slow geological time—ancient sedimentation, solidified eruptions, eroded cliffs—and ephemeral meteorological phenomena—ow mists, blushing skies, sleeting rain. Upon Martin's earth, evidence of human endeavour appears like a cryptic apparition. Sometimes she overlays her landscapes with ominous texts, quoting classical authors in the original Latin or reproducing extracts from the writings of explorers. Martin's paintings, like real landscapes, play with light, sometimes shimmering with 'fool's gold' or engulfing light into their darkness.
The Salvator Rosa Series is both an hommage to the influential old master painter and a depiction of a place in Australia named after him. Martin has written that her Salvator Rosa works "evolved from drawings I made on trips to the Salvator Rosa Section of the Carnarvon National Park in South West Queensland. The park was so named after the 17th century Italian painter because of its rugged and gothic features, by the explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1848. Mitchell invoked not only Rosa but other Romantic references: Poussin, John Martin and Claude. Mitchell cast his own journey in the mold of Ovid's Metamorphoses, CamÃµes' Lusiads, and also the idea of epic journeys in search of El Dorado. I use many of these sources as a counterpoint for my own narrative which seeks a contemporary reworking of issues of identity, possession of land and indigenousness." [Mandy Martin, 'Artist's Statement', Mandy Martin: Peripecia—The Salvator Rosa Series, exh. cat., Drill Hall Gallery, ANU, Canberra, 2002]
Mandy Martin has been exhibiting her work in Australia 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 Australia. Overseas holdings of her work include the prestigious 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 Australia. Salvator Rosa Series IV will be Martin's tenth solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.