It feels like the portraits were deliberately damaged after the painting was completed. This consciously cultivated spontaneity in painting is intrinsic to Martin’s work. … That violation of appearance is anonymous and sidelines the individual’s identity and character, and it makes the faces dissolve or return in nature’s chaos.
There is a rather photographic quality to the “original” portrait — we’re tempted to see the whole face as if it were ever actually a whole face, and not as if the brush strokes were a part of the image to begin with. We want to peer behind the paint that obscures the face beneath it, but in reality there is no face beneath it, and there may never have been. These are incomplete identities, their faces–what makes a person instantly recognizable–never fully formed. Instead, things went haywire. I’m left with a sense of what might have been, a (perhaps imagined) moment when the artist decided to veer off into the abstract, and a distinct, rather disturbing feeling of loss.
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