Plant Strategies, Jordan Martin’s first solo exhibition at Goldfinch, features new paintings that build from Martins’ ongoing Phenotypes, an ever-expanding series of monoprints that create a feedback loop between assemblages-photographs-collages-scans and inkjet prints, with the final output always being a unique archival pigment print. Martins’ new paintings extend the feedback loop one step further; here, Martins builds off the imagery of the Phenotypes by printing images on canvas and then painting directly around and on top of the printed imagery, so that, in Martins’ words, “the painting begins more in medias res than tabula rasa.”
The forms and gestures that are present within these paintings also reflect Martins’ interest in dazzle camouflage, strategies of conspicuous visuality, and the ways in which a painting might deploy or reflect them.
“I’m often trying to create a field of vision that simultaneously obfuscates visual readability (through disruptive patterns or using ‘decoy’ marks and colors) and directs attention in a very bold way. Like a zebra. I’m also interested in the way that the camouflage question overlaps with the process of [making] imagery that is inkjet printed and imagery that is painted. At certain distances, it’s difficult to tell what is what, i.e. is the paint camouflaging the digital-photographic process, or is the digital-photographic process camouflaging the paint?”
Martins’ interest in deployments of masquerade and disguise led him to examine the plant strategies used to reproduce, adapt, survive, and compete in the landscape – an avenue of artistic inquiry that involve trade-offs in response to environmental pressures and changes.
“My speculative interest in evolutionary biology and curiosity about drawing parallels to the visual dynamics of painting led me to this branch of botany, and it piqued my interest as a way to describe the behavior of paint on a surface. I’m thinking about it in a broader sense of how “painting” happens, but also in a very specific sense of how this body of work has developed: as I began the process of painting on pre-printed canvases, I’ve had to decide how I want the paint to behave or operate, and depending on how I decide to have it operate there is always some kind of trade-off: more paint means covering up more of the underlying digital image, and vice versa; using simple/declarative marks heightens the fact that the paint and the image are separate; using more integrated marks de-emphasizes the fact that they are separate, etc.”
To complement Plant Strategies, Jordan Martin has guest curated a group show of sculpture, painting, digital media and photography in Gallery II titled Animal Tactics. Featuring the work of Devin Balara, David Heo, Kelly Kristin Jones and João Oliveira, Animal Tactics ponders animal behavior as a means of understanding perceptual relationships embedded within landscapes, human activities, territorial marking, and visual structure. Through a variety of media and approaches, the artists in this show point to the ways in which humans are themselves animals, animals are seen as objects, and objects themselves can manifest an animal-like agency.