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GALLERY: “I am a landscape painter dressed up as an abstractionist”

GALLERY: “I am a landscape painter dressed up as an abstractionist”

Monday 17 June 2019

GALLERY: “I am a landscape painter dressed up as an abstractionist”


A Jersey-born abstract artist, whose works have been displayed in every continent across the world, has revealed a group of never-before-seen watercolours in his first ever exhibition in his homeland.

Jason Martin's 'Full Moon Islands' opened at Private & Public Gallery last week, where it will remain until 6 July.

Born in Jersey in 1970, Jason studied Fine Art at Goldsmith College in London and upon graduating in 1993 instantly shot to stardom with his inclusion, by Charles Saatchi, in the seminal exhibition ‘Sensation’ at the Royal Academy, which defined a generation of artists.

He is best known for his monochromatic paintings, where layers of oil or acrylic gel are dragged across hard surfaces such as aluminium, stainless steel or Plexiglass with a fine, comb-like piece of metal or board in one movement often repeated many times.

Pictured: Jason is best known for his heavily-layered, monochromatic paintings.

Since then, he has shown work in locations ranging from the UK to Germany, Spain, and Italy - but never in Jersey. “Full Moon Islands” is his first-time exhibition in the island and it’s also the first time he is presenting a different aspect of his work in the form of a series of watercolours on papers.

“It is my birth place, my whole root of story begins in Jersey. I spent my first 18 years here, so to come back, it’s exciting,” Jason said.

The watercolours might sound surprising to those used to Jason’s monochromatic works, but they are not new. “People are not familiar with that kind of work, but it’s part of the fun. I like subverting people’s stereotypes about the work I do. 

“I have various projects beyond the preconceived ideas of what I do. Monochrome is what I am known for, what I am understood for. I like the idea that you can have a story in your work, that you still have something to say. It’s like a surprise."

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Pictured: The series of watercolours has never been shown before.

“They are completely new examples of what I do, it’s refreshing to show" Jason continues. "There’s a signature element to my work, which has its advantages and its pitfalls. I like to challenge perceptions in art world, although it is sometimes safer to stay in stereotypes than challenging boundaries of what you’re doing.”

Jason describes the watercolours as “playful exploration of his travels” in the manner of a journal, adding that they reference the other islands he’s visited over the last years. Although he left Jersey quite young, he still calls himself an islander and his relationship with the horizon has deeply informed his work. 

“My first experience of the horizon that was not a meeting of the sky and sea came in my late teens,” he explained. “It was only looking away from the shoreline that I would see the land meet the sky. I only experienced a landscape, which is the land meeting the sky, when I went away.”

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Pictured: "I see it as a secret space looking through the jungle," Jason said.

Jason’s watercolours – which are all 'nocturns', which were created between the hours of 17:00 and 21:00 after a day out - suggest landscapes by including references to the horizon as well as the motif of mountains. One of them, Jason explained, evokes a jungle canopy - “a secret space looking through the jungle.”

“It’s unconscious and intuitive. I tried to give a pictorial depth, to give it a sense of space.”

“The abstract always references the figuration,” Jason added. “I never escape figuration. The naturalism is fundamental to all the works that I make. I am a landscape painter dressed up as an abstractionist.”

In addition to Jason’s works, the exhibition includes monochromatic images by the late Richard Allen and gallery artist Emily Thomas whose op-kinetic drawings tell the story of hard-edge abstraction in a modern and contemporary way.

GALLERY: A sneak peek at 'Full Moon Islands'...

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