Holly Johnson Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of INITIALISMS, an exhibition of recent paintings and works on paper by Jim Martin. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, June 23rd, from 6 to 8 pm.
For many years the work of Jim Martin has explored words, gestural forms, and cultural meanings. Like the linguistic term from which they get their inspiration, these recent works deliberately elide precise definition. The Martin oeuvre has also been likened to a number of artistic ‘isms’: Expressionism, Modernism, Vorticism, etc. There continue to be hints of each in his work, to be sure, but a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice you will not find here, as he is jesting with us, playing once again with words.
According to the artist, “I have been looking at acronyms and more specifically, initialisms - how they often get a point across in a more direct, unencumbered way than ‘proper’ English.” An interest in post-structural theory finds the artist working with language at some of its most basic yet still legible form. Painting titles act as initilialisms, the term used when each letter in a string is pronounced separately. In our world, they are colloquial in nature, fabrications meant for communities, often fostering camaraderie in their simplicity. Martin’s work also alludes to the Phoenician alphabet, the basic language that allowed for the first widespread use of writing among this ancient civilization. Indeed, both – initialisms and the Phoenicians - have been effectual for the artist’s process.
Whether working with copper, metallic powders, paints or patinas, Martin presents works that are built-up with multiple layers and textures - reminding one of primitive references, as if belonging in the cave paintings of Chauvet or Lascaux or to a revitalized Phoenician man abandoning stone in favor of canvas.
Jim Martin was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He received a B.F.A. in 1973 from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and then spent nearly two decades in New York City. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and the San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas, as well as numerous private and corporate collections. He currently resides in Dallas.