Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lloyd Martin: Providence RI

Martin with a work in progress, 78 x 144

Please share a little about yourself. Where did you grow up and what  early influences on your work? Where do you live now?
I was born in Providence RI and grew up there. Currently I live in North Providence RI and my studio is in Pawtucket RI. Drawing and painting were a part of my identity at an early age.

Lloyd Martin at work in his studio

Did you receive any formal art training? If yes where and what did you major in?
I got my BFA at RISD in 1980 where I majored in painting.

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art and was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
I was interested in art making very early on. I did finally settle into the idea of being a painter at RISD. I also played guitar in some rock bands and maybe would have pursued that if I connected up with the right folks, who knows. I really loved the whole punk rock scene in the 70’s and still love that music.

Which rock bands did you like and do you currently listen to?
Some of the  bands from the 70's I still listen to are the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith, Toots and the Maytals, Iggy Pop, to name a few too many to list.
I am really a long time Smiths fan but also I love Beck and Tricky — again just to name a few.

What is your media?
Primarily I work in a very traditional way. My paintings are oil on stretched canvas. I also do some works on paper/drawings that are more mixed media.

84 x 96

What is your current work about?
Mostly it is about the idea that I still find making abstract painting challenging, I need a good challenge or battle to look forward to, to call me into the studio. Great abstract painting is a powerful thing. Metaphorically, the work is about architecture. The paintings rely on a synthetic architecture. 

I take photographs of my immediate surroundings that have, in the past, acted as a springboard. In 2006 I started a series of works titled “Finestrae” based on some photographs of windows in my building. I liked the multi-layered meaning associated with the window. Painting being a “window” I was thinking about all of the wonderful Matisse “window paintings as well. Those Matisse works were created by default—they weren’t about the great epic subjects they were just a reason to smear down some paint and explore the potential of color and form without any external meaning. So they are very modern, in that sense. I wanted to make work that didn’t rely on irony to be interesting like a lot of contemporary art does.

Inspiration: windows in Martin's building

I am fond of the nature metaphor where the artist through the process acts to transform their given medium. Much in same way Nature transforms our environment daily. The sense of perpetual entropy is life. Each painting is fed from the last effort. Also I am such a visual person what I see every day in my life enters in and becomes part of the mix. I try to continue to open things up within a limited vocabulary. I have settled with these rectangular forms that float or activate space or the environment they occupy. It is a sort of figure/ground relationship. I like to think of the canvas as a place where “painting events” take place. So I begin by setting up compositions or color relationships that may be a little challenging. Then the painting sort of takes over. There is this point where I rely solely on my gut and intuition.

Red Stilt
48 x 102
This is the sweet spot where I’m not thinking and good stuff starts to happen. Some of the good stuff stays and some doesn’t. There is a point where I do have to edit and work towards a statement that feels resolved enough. The palette I have been using lately has added a new challenge for me the where the color is more synthetic.

Lithograph created at Landfall Press in Santa Fe
 image size is 30x30 and is an edition of 30, 2007

What is your workspace like?
I work in an old textile mill here in Pawtucket RI. I have about 1500 sq. feet of space and I have been in this building for around 10 years.

A view inside Martin's studio

Do you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?
I am kind of a loner so I don’t really belong to any groups currently. There were a couple of years back in the 90’s where I belonged to a “crit” group. There were 8 or 10 artists that would get together at one of our studios. Each one would bring a piece or 2 and we would have some pretty good open discussions and critique each others work. I met some great people some of whom I am still in touch with today.

Finaestre 7
60 x 84

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?    
I try to get to as many openings of my closest artist friends as I can. The mutual support some of us have had for each other over the years is very meaningful to me.

Do you ever get stuck with your work, and how do you remedy this?
Yes, I do get stuck on occasion, but it usually doesn’t last too long. I find this mostly occurs when I venture too quickly into territory I don’t understand yet. Not that you ever want to define what you do but it is important to at least have a good hold on the reins.

Do you have any shows coming up?
I have some shows in the works but nothing official yet. I just had a one person show at The Stephen Haller Gallery that ran from May 19 to June 25th.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
My habit is to show up to work everyday, things happen through working. There is no other way to will things into existence. It’s a job and requires a daily effort.

You can see more of Lloyd Martin's work on his website.
"The fascination of Martin’s painting lies in its pitch-perfect balance between the constraints of a formal grid and the rhythmic movement of horizontal bands within it. The tactile materiality of the paint, contained within strict, incised margins, contrasts with the immateriality of the image. Color is arranged antiphonally, occurring in alternating patterns of call-and-response. An orange band across the bottom of a canvas echoes a vertical of the same orange set across a span of neutrals. A single red bar draws the eye to the center of Dissever (2010) in terse rejoinder to the red plane that commands the upper left corner. "
— Maureen Mullarkey
Maureen Mullarkey wrote a review of Martin's show On the Grid, this spring at the Stephen Haller Gallery. Be sure to check out her Studio Matters Blog.

Thank you Lloyd!


CMC said...

Fantastic... thanks. Lynette, for introducing me to Lloyd and his work. It is so funny sometimes how artists can come from such different parts of the country and with such diverse backgrounds.... And yet, they have a very similar outlook on their paintings/work..expressed with slightly different vocabulary.

Nancy Natale said...

Thank you, Lynette and Lloyd! I loved seeing Lloyd's work at Stephen Haller last year and bought his catalog of the Finestrae series. The new work has more saturated color and I can see that it would a greater challenge to keep all the balls in the air. I enjoyed reading Lloyd's thoughts about showing up and the challenge/battle of making abstract paintings. And of course I liked seeing him in action in the studio.

lisa said...

Great interview! thanks

Lynette Haggard said...

Thanks all! I was very inspired by what he had to say, and his work.

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

Enjoyed the interview. I love his comment about showing up for work everyday. I don't think non-artist understand this concept. Thanks

Diane McGregor said...

Thanks Lynette and Lloyd for such a great interview. Lloyd is one of my all time favorite painters, truly a "painter's painter." I agree with Terry - showing up for work everyday is an essential habit. As he says, "things happen through working." Very inspiring!