High Flying Bird

High Flying Bird
signed with the artist's initials and dated ‘EM. 14.’ (lower right)
oil, enamel, spray paint, thumb tacks and paper collage on canvas
274.6 x 365.8 cm. (108 1/8 x 144 in.)
Executed in 2014
Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, USA
Private collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Los Angeles, USA, Kohn Gallery, Nomader, September- October, 2014.
Los Angeles, USA, Kohn Gallery, Gesture Form Pop Process, March 2018.

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Shanshan Wei
Shanshan Wei

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Lot Essay

“What I relate to most in my own work and process is the speed and raw unfiltered mark making.” -Eddie Martinez

Known for his energetic use of line and manipulation of colour in his paintings and sculpture, Eddie Martinez draws inspiration from a wide range of influences including popular urban culture, Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. Having spent his adolescent years making graffiti, the Brooklyn-based artist creates paintings on canvas that retain the rough, expressionistic lines and bold colours of street art. Working between representation and abstraction, he paints in oil, enamel and spray paint while often incorporating found objects. Trained as both a draftsman and painter, his large-scale canvases demonstrate a rich, intuitive command of pigment while maintaining the fast-paced, semi-automatic qualities of drawing.

Stretching over three metres in width, High Flying Bird (2014) is a spectacular example of this approach. An eclectic mix of forms and
shapes animates the canvas in myriad hues of purple, green, pink, brown, and blue. Oscillating between figuration and abstraction, there are numerous ways to look at Martinez’s paintings. While certain elements are more distinct than others – notably the fabled white eagle in the top left-hand corner and a rooster mirrored on the right – the constant interlacing of forms diminishes the legibility of the individual elements. With its energetic brushstrokes, bold contours and semi-abstract forms, the work combines allusions to classical still-life and allegorical narratives with the raw gesturalism of artists such as Willem de Kooning.

Like Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, Martinez elevates everyday life to an otherworldly realm, infusing the familiar with a sense of fantasy. This is evident in his combination of traditional and unconventional media: oil and acrylic join hands with everyday substances including markers, spray paint and collaged objects. In High Flying Bird, the artist has incorporated thumb tacks and paper collage onto the canvas, transforming it from a passive picture plane into an active object that fluctuates between illusion and material reality. As its title plays games with the viewer’s imagination, Martinez forges a work that is at once seemingly spontaneous and deliberate, whimsical and sophisticated.

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