What would happen if the ground was up? What if we were grounded from above? A possible answer might be levitation, where gravity still holds but in another way; something between the free-floating flux of total freedom in generic abstraction and the pull of gravity in realism of matter. Such balancing acts were performed through a variety of elements in Martin Blake’s previous paintings. Using pieces of torn paper on canvas as part of the composition created points of gravity within the rectangular space, a limitation that opened up a space for dialog. Another method used by the artist is wide brush strokes: between the largely empty white background of the canvas and thin lines of colour that have to obey the defined laws of matter and motion, a space opens up for a play of fore- and background, for a temporary balancing of the mythical and the human, for the risky practice of making transient acts permanent in matter and static pigments transient in movement, for what is called “painting”.
In his latest project at Centrum, Martin Blake achieves a similar balance using an altogether new and different method in which the frame itself sets the limits. The shape of two large wooden panel paintings was originally found at Centrum, as an arched architectural element separating the exhibition space from the space next door. An arch on top of a painting bears the responsibility of containing all the colours and shapes inside (while also bearing the weight of the building). As the points of attraction in the two paintings are at their tops, they are grounded from above, or simply “up-lifted”. Just as the material necessity and gravity of the physical structure influences the colours, the colours acknowledge the ever-present structure by moving vertically towards the arch. Deep greys in one of the paintings send out a feeling of inner calm. The motionless colours find opportunity to ascend, descend and glide in waves. The bright yellow and purple in the other painting jump up towards the arch, while the arch pulls the colours to its embrace.
Linking the two wooden panels, the third work in the exhibition is a smaller painting with a tiger. The poised large cat figure is filled with colours from the two arcs in a kind of transitional spectrum. In another dimension, the striped in-between animal stands between the red-grey frame and the red and grey floor that visitors are standing on.