Theme Once Upon a Time

Max-Carlos Martinez : (Theme) Once Upon a Time

Apr 15 – Jun 5, 2016 

In the exhibition (Theme) Once Upon a Time, El Zagúan resident artist Max-Carlos Martinez explores the formation of national identity through abstracted portraiture derived from historical imagery of the American Southwest. Fourty-four of Martinez’s recent paintings on paper populate the walls of the CCA Cinematheque lobby gallery with colorful abstractions of Hopi Women, Anglo settlers, Native American ceremonial masks, and other “people who found themselves harnessed together by the bitter history of the beautiful landscape,” (excerpted from the artist’s statement about the work).

Martinez layers smooth acrylic coats of color over a minimalist outline sketch, making his paintings reminiscent of a collage or print. The use of repeated images among separate works, fresh with subtle alterations and varying color combinations, speaks to Martinez’s interest in the individual within historical frameworks of cultural identity and group mentality.

According to the artist, “The recent work became realized in 2008, the presidential election, the Olympics, national identity, what and who defined us as a people. I found similarities in the period of the 1850s, my focus being the creation of the American West, the politics, the racism, sexism, greed, brutality, war and again the idea of a national identity. I remove the figure from the source material, freeing them from their constraints and anxiety riddled narrative. Or I create a new one.

About the artist
Self taught artist, Max-Carlos Martinez was born in 1961 in Albuquerque, and began painting in 1979. He moved to New York City in 1981, where he lived, painted, attended residencies, and exhibited works for 29 years. He returned to New Mexico in 2010 and began an artist residency at El Zagúan in Santa Fe, where he has been living since. Martinez has exhibited works in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally.