Psychotropic Ego Death Grip

Gene Paul Martin

July 6 - August 5, 2023


West Gallery proudly presents “Psychotropic Ego death grip” by Gene Paul Martin, a series of paintings featuringthe artist’s trademark techno hallucinogenic animism that melds figuration with abstraction using alchemicaltransformations of everyday objects into precious stones, colorful aqueous matter, and other mutagenic organicagents animated within a gripping concatenation of socio-cultural, spiritual, and creative interests. Martin applies his brand of magic weaving representational elements with vestiges of modernist designs, to facilitate a hybrid expression of indigenous fantasy in the abstruse parlance of a critical artistic vocabulary of painting and its autonomous stance. He succeeds in exploring the nuances of the artistic challenge in painting, the sovereign lure of the ego’s creative drive, on painting’s conscious approach to the death of authorship, and with ironic shade, painting’s capacity towards altering reality through the senses.


Spanning a monumental six and a half by twelve feet painting is “Metaphysics of Boredom,” Gene Paul Martin’s artistic statement on the unbridled inspiration of creative imagination, the plain adversity of production and its succeeding accumulation, and the demise of the received linear progression of art. The painting presents content collapse on things related to postmodern signatures, or stylistic necrophilia through appropriation and sampling, information overload, plus the rise of the quotidian as relational tactic and situationist cultural critique. Martin offers a deluge of interconnecting events that challenge our perception and cognition of this visionary world that he has invented. Density in the work, despite the indirect reference to the city’s bustling overcrowding and dearth in sustainable urban planning, points to the layering of things on top of each other in random placement, its allover composition gives a complex abstraction with its immediate push and pull of things and pattern recognition as well as its tactical visual cancellation of data implosion. Martin gives us the guise of a crowded space that is part temple of worship, part storage room, part mausoleum, part studio, part gallery, but with everything else in there, a multiple universe of alien things induced by the mind, a kaleidoscopic alternate reality.¹


Martin renders a new animism for painting, where everything is alive and interconnected. The density of the pictorial space indeed captures the things within the grid, albeit the environment doesn’t preclude inertia. Things on the other hand are quite active, or animated, interacting with one another. To his painterly acumen, Martin succeeds in being able to render these wild abstract forms generated from the imagination into solid, believable, life-like characters within the picture. We see gem-like colorful discs dancing around triangular tent like figures lain on the ground as if prodding them to get up and join the festivities. We see humanoid figures, yet we don’t comprehend the full body as they are fragmented, but they are exuding with the brilliance of gem like colors as its skin. Always present are various limbs, arms and legs, hands and fingers, feet, that are elongated, holding and grabbing these hybrids of organic tissue, intestines or bladders, side by side altogether with geometric shapes, squares, rectangles, trapezoids, that float and patrol the area. Suspended in the air, or hanging above, are bags of earthy flesh or sacs that may contain new mutant offsprings if not food. A pair of hands grabs something like sandwich or pizza with spotted pepperoni, food for thought dipped with humor. Pipes, cylinders, drains, tubes, drip sparsely as if about to rain from this enclosed humid environment with matching dry tropical leaves as rooftop propped by bamboo-like poles in this cubicle. Inside are flat rectangular shapes that appear as paintings or framed and matted pictures, the content within have modern abstract designs seemingly to remember idealistic longings then of what the future might hold as in futurist or suprematist schools of metaphysical thought. Across the picture plane there exists long perambulating curving lines of silvery metallic skins that pass through the figures and things that tickle and probe tying up and connecting each disparate material altogether. Another ribboning line that is full rounded yet rendered flat with distinct black outlines, is colored green and reddish pink that climbs in out of the stuff around like a snake that loops and slithers to escape from its viewers while armed with an anticipatory strike. And if we were to imagine those drippy lines that Pollock had popularized in moving across and connecting the surface landscape of painting, think of it as this performative stroke turning solid and placed in an alien chamber to coagulate and to be revivified. It is to the artist’s prowess that he is able to blend, or hybridized, a vocabulary of contemporary art and design while introducing a certain element of indigenous animism in the work, playing with native textures that can break the clean hard edge minimalism mandated by modernist centers outside.²


Equally prominent are the appearance of vessels, urns, or vases, which points to a beginning or an end: as a form of creative nourishment, or creative chaos, and even death or the passage to the afterlife; which in Martin’s case are portals to the unknown.³ Rising from the floor are a few totemic structures that imbue a mixture of magical staff, mutagenic organs, eyes, face, and again, limbs. From each corner, opposite each other are jeweled obelisks that serve perhaps as portals to this spectacle. Near the foreground and just about the center, buried and hidden underneath the pile of abstract rubble, lies a couple of figures asleep, particularly one that seems to dream it all, echoing the mantra of Goya with the sleep of reason bringing forth monsters. If not, these figures in repose can role play as exhausted cultural custodians, with one worker continuing to squeeze paint along an assembly line even while he’s unawake, or another humanoid pair of hands grabbing an outstretched intestinal bladder to squeeze milk or juice to quench the thirst in order to still produce, like muscle memory commanding the unconscious self, churning within this factory of creative labor and pondering over the concern of where things would end, perhaps in a terminal grip of simulated progress, in limbo. Gene Paul Martin ponders on the grid of systemic capture with regards to artistic and cultural production, featuring an allover composition borderline horror vacui enclosed within the margins of entropy and ennui. He reflects on the confinements of cultural commodification, touching upon issues on creative labor and the system of things circulating, collecting, and exchanged within the manufacture of signs, whereabouts their signification and communal reading, while building an engaged audience that would bear profound awareness on the use of vernacular signs mixed accordingly along the language of contemporary aesthetics as manifested in the medium of painting, experimenting here on notions of the body, its phenomenological story, through the lines of identity formation filtered by technological and spiritual desiring machines.


Arvin Flores


¹ In another painting, “Space Dungeon,” (oil on canvas, 16 x 22 inches) encapsulates the alchemical laboratory of the imagination An unseen wizard/artist is inside a cell/studio with an overview of the world, which inside also features animated precious stones, plus the ostensible mysticism of a pipe – which is not what one would think it to be outside of its illusion, but rather a conduit to otherworldly experiences.

² In the painting “Hybrids”(oil on canvas, 40 x 45 inches), cast against a golden yellow enlightened background, a dismembered brown skinned figure that collages batwings with rainbow colored hair in place of a head, carries a cross-like pole laid with braids of yellow-maroon hued everlasting flowers common to religious settings, dangling atop the cross as well, an intestinal organ functioning like an external appendix belonging to a man-mutant assembly who skewers its headpiece in place with a sword. Here, Martin offers us his unique blend of native and traditional textures and symbolism while exploring the challenges of figurative painting today to produce that ever elusive notion of identity.

³ In both paintings, “Sentient” (oil on canvas, 16 x 22 inches) and White Magik (6.5 x 6 feet), vessels are the main motif. “Sentient” shows a view from the back of a stylized mutated figure cast against a magenta background, golden hair and shimmering metallic gold skin (gold representing material perfection in the alchemical process), holding a large vase rendered two-dimensionally flat and minimal, that appears like a portal keyhole. Another, in “White Magik,” you see no figure in full besides the appearance of both hands, and an eye popping on the side of these hands as if contorting a piece of its head to look high above the heavens, holding an elegant pure white vessel cast against an intense blue background seemingly jumping from the void. Both paintings present immanent dynamic potentialities.