Martin Eder is German artist who paints atmospheric portraits, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy in a semi-surreal haze. His recent series involves figures of mythological repute, clad in armor and posing on the battlefield while the background boils with fire, smoke, and blood. Elsewhere, in more subdued scenes, his subjects recline in tender contemplation, or transform — with a silent violence — into a swan. Blending Botticelli-esque classicism with contemporary hyperrealism, Eder’s paintings defy categorization, appealing in their ambivalence to our fantasies through passionate stories radiating courage and melancholia.
Eder’s previous works are known for their flickering touches of eroticism blended with absurdity. Those who see his depictions of women as somewhat fetishized are not mistaken; experimenting with desire (and engaged criticisms) as affirmations of life, Eder asks us, in a rhetorical turn, “isn’t arousal, if it’s present at all, a rebellion against death?” (Source). In his bloodied and battle-wearied warrior portraits, however, Eder seems to be metaphorically driving at something else: a connection to the present, as the curator’s statement for Eder’s current exhibition at Galerie Eigen + Art suggests:
Women in armour, torn linen fabrics, armed with swords, traces of acts of war on their faces. The theme seems to be of a historical one, but is omnipresent: women of war in battle, in combat. Amongst the overflow of catastrophes, natural disasters and war images, emerge female figures as warriors that we repeatedly see, as soldiers, in the form of mothers who protect their children or their villages with weapons in the Middle East, or on another front on Maidan Square, equipped with improvised armour of street signs, gaffer tapes and plastic containers. (Source)
Eder’s exhibition, titled “Those Bloody Colours,” is showing at Eigen + Art in Berlin until May 23rd. The title of the exhibition refers to a cry of war uttered in Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part 3: “Let our bloody colours wave!/And either victory, or else a grave!” Offering yet another level of interpretation, Eder’s works remind us of the power of fantasies, as they can cover up (or romanticize) bloody histories and ongoing violences occurring beneath the “colours” of a flag.