Martin’s show at White Cube falls into three spaces and styles: a set of honeycombs cast in bronze; a series of tombstones executed in smooth stone, in the lower space of the gallery, and arranged in an ‘S’ shape; and a set of small collages.
The honeycombs are the most interesting – it takes some time to work out that they are made of bronze, and the repetitive format allows for a diversity of shapes and negative shapes (the areas where the comb’s cells are instact versus those that are empty and therefore open to the wall). There are delicate details such as the actual structure of the frame – particularly, where elements (presumably originally of wood) don’t join perfectly. There is a reference in the press release to lost wax casting being used to produce the works, and I’m not sure if there is any conceptual reference being made here to beeswax, or if the conceptual element is purely the rendering of something very fragile into bronze, that most durable of sculptural materials.
The sandstone tombstones, or standing stones as the press release calls them, are notable for their number (104 filling the lower gallery), and I suppose their tombstone shapes give the space a certain cemetery appearance, but I’m afraid if any aesthetic effect was intended, it’s lost on me. It looks more like the material used to pave the bathrooms of hotels of the Park Hyatt Ararat in Moscow. There is quite a lot more about “fundamental existential issues”, “idea of play”, “ ‘domino effect’ “, in the press release, but the work doesn’t convince through it’s own presence.
The collages upon antique prints, for instance of cut out fish on a print of a Renaissance religious scene, are lovely – the slight colouration of the cut-outs on the essentially grey/brown tones of the prints, as well as the connected subject-matter of the cut-outs and the underlying prints, both make the images interesting and pleasurable to view.
Some of Martin’s other work (only seen on the web) is perhaps more impressive than the contents of this show.