Eddie Martinez details a strange and wonderful world of googly-eyed pots, Cosby sweater wearing owls, recurring characters and colorful, quirky compositions. In a recent interview, Martinez details his no-nonsense, back to basics approach to creating work. Unlike the intense philosophical considerations and conceptualizations inherent in so many artists’ meandering methodologies, Martinez takes an almost blissfully ignorant approach in the laconic tradition to making his works: “Sometimes an idea will work its way into a drawing … I don’t know…I don’t really make plans for [the painting] so much. I usually just start it.”
Can you talk a little about your creative process, from the inception of an idea for a painting, to the decision to execute it…to the final work?
Sometimes an idea will work its way into a drawing … I don’t know…I don’t really make plans for it so much. I usually just start it. The ideas come at different stages throughout the process.
Your paintings have a sort of rough-hewn aesthetic, full of dripping paint and impasto areas….is this a sort of controlled chaos, or elegant disheveledness? OR can you talk about your tecnique for manipulating paint in the works.
It’s a combination of happenstance and definitive technique. Different techniques I picked up at different stages.
Many of your paintings are figurative—there seems to be some constants such as their glowing, diamond dilated pupil (acid induced?) eyes and often headwear and eccentricly geometric sweaters…who are the figures in your works?
The figures just sort of become my figures through repetition and the headwear is just funny. It helps me finish the picture.
There is a wealth of iconography that seems to reoccur within your paintings—a motley cast of characers including potted plants, knick-knacks, the moon, smiley faces…what do you make of this visual alphabet? Do the symbols have particular meanings to you—or how did you develop this particular language?
It’s just from my life, traveling, things I absorb. I don’t sit down and say I’m going to draw a specific figure. Maybe sometimes I’ll get an idea of the way I want something to look and then I’ll reference a photo and it just comes out the way I would do it.
I love the paintings that play with the spatial depth/surface of your works- they’re like tables/billboards with items grouped on them….what was your thought process behind these works?
That’s just the way the come out – the depth part. It’s just the way I paint them. But as far as the actual table with items on it, it is at my studio with stuff on it – knickknacks, phone, bottles. And I am attracted to the still life.
Your works have a humorous quality….something about their laid back depictions and your characters expressions…where do you think that derives from? Or what role do you think humor plays within your works?
I love funny stuff. I like to laugh. I like comedy. I just want to have fun while I’m painting. I’m lucky enough to just work in my studio so there’s no point in making it a ‘job’.
Who are some of your favorite artists, and what do you admire about their work?
De Koonig, Gorky – speed, rawness
Carol Dunham – cartoon quality
I love the sense of color & composition in your works—how do you select and arrange these elements within your work?
I’m not sure I love color, I just like to play around with it and see what happens (I just over things a lot).
What projects are you currently working on?
I just had a show of 23 paintings in Korea…now I’m doing a show of drawings with my friend Wes Lang in Brussels in April.
For more info on Eddie Martinez, visit: eddiemartinez.info