Everything in the digital age is becoming packaged. Artefacts and objects are processed and reduced to bite sized portals of information so that the viewer can easily process, and file ideas and information into our internal catalogue. As we spend more time on the computer, watching video clips, or reading bite sized links placed on our news, twitter or Facebook feeds, we are invited to see the world around us as fitting into certain concepts or constructs.
Nothing could be further from this notion, when a viewer stands in front of an elegant resin painting by abstract painter Leigh Martin. His colour pigment and resin layers glimmer and shine with both intensity and stillness. These artworks need time and an interplay with the viewer to unravel their essence. The paintings appear alive and glow as if waiting for our response to them. Martin sees them as almost living objects, which are influenced by the atmosphere in which they are created and also placed in. They are also affected by the viewer and what they bring to the work, but also the surrounding space and in particular, the light, whether it be natural or artificial that they are hung in. At different times of the day, another layer or ‘pour’ is luminated. The way the viewer seems them, how they affect the viewer, can completely change compared to whether they are seen in natural or artificial light. Says Martin, “I kind of want the works to be living entities in some respects."
Here, there is no narrative or story to follow within the work. It is the surface and the inner light of the pigmented resin colour that sings to us its own song. Martin wants us to feel through our senses these artworks in almost a synesthetic process; that is to say, we can sense the colour through sound, or taste the colour and appearance. Indeed, Martin himself is inspired not so much by other painters, but rather sound artists such as Carsten Nicolai, who invite the audience to” revisit an experience that’s may have had with one sense and to revisit it by another sense.”
In order for this experience, we need to stop a while before Martin’s work. Rather than a perceived notion of what to expect within a painting (for example, drawing or narrative), these works join with us in unfolding our own sensations and feelings. They reveal within us, a world of contemplation, each person bringing their own process and perception to the work.
Martin creates these works by applying layer upon layer of resin and pigmented colour to the painting. Because of the toxic nature of resin, they are created in an industrial booth. Resin creates a beautiful finish and appears almost translucent. Martin pours the resin onto the ground in multi layers of colour He then rocks this viscous fluid from side to side. Says Martin, “In many ways it's a Jackson Pollock like exercise but without the gesture. In many respects the weight of the resin, the heat of the booth, all the contingent factors in the environment actually determine how the pigment and resin glow across the surface”.
Born in Hamilton New Zealand, Martin gained a Bachelor of Fine ArtsHons in Drawing and Painting, Glasgow School of Fine Arts, Glasgow, Scotland in 1993. In 2013 he gained a master’s degree in Art & Design (1st Class Honours) at Auckland Institute of Technology. He has been a Tutor and lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland, NZ, the University of technology, Auckland, New Zealand and the School of Fine Art, Unitec, Auckland, New Zealand. His work is held in both private and public collections including, Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery—Toi o Tamaki, New Zealand, James Wallace Collection, Auckland, New Zealand and the Fletcher Collection, Auckland, New Zealand.