(Montauk, NY) – Beginning July 2nd, South Etna Montauk Foundation will devote its gallery space to new works by Brooklyn-based artists Eddie Martinez and Sam Moyer. Wall pieces from Moyer’s ongoing series of stone paintings will be complemented by a pair of her concrete backgammon boards, in juxtaposition with Martinez’s latest paper-pulp paintings, produced during a recent residency at Dieu-Donné in Brooklyn. By bringing Moyer and Martinez together, the exhibition invites visitors to contemplate areas of both mutual influence and difference in the practices of these married artists.
For over 150 years, the Hamptons communities have provided inspiration and space for artists, including many prominent married painters and sculptors, from Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Al Held and Sylvia Stone, to Rashid Johnson and Sheree Hovsepian, and April Gornik and Eric Fischl. The exhibition at South Etna invites visitors to consider the works on view within the context of this history. At times, themes and similarities emerge. Both Moyer and Martinez incorporate found materials and challenge the physical limits of the frame; both play with the boundaries between figuration and abstraction; both draw the viewer into contemplating the differences between what is real and what is fabricated. The couple’s marriage—togetherness offset by artistic independence (evoking what Rainer Maria Rilke described as “two solitudes which border, protect, and greet each other”)—is made manifest in the nearness of their raw and expressive bodies of work.
Eddie Martinez + Sam Moyer at South Etna Montauk Foundation coincides with the 2022 edition of Sculpture in the Garden at the Landcraft Garden Foundation in Mattituck, NY, which showcases 20 sculptures by the couple, with 17 by Martinez and 3 by Moyer.
The exhibition at South Etna features four of Moyer’s latest stone paintings, which explore the effects of layering and texture on the viewer’s optical experience of surfaces engaged by light. Simultaneously assertive and fragile, these works feature slabs of marble and slate the artist sources from local stone yards and arranges in compositions that achieve exquisite tension: Moyer’s canny placement suggests the precariousness of perfect balance. In a muted palette of blues, whites, charcoals, and blacks, the stones at times venture beyond the rectangular frame in a visual equivalent to a conversation interrupted or left suspended for a later date.
Moyer began her stone paintings series in 2014 to explore a central question about the limits of duality. The new works on view at South Etna evidence the evolution of her unique vocabulary of abstraction: in the past, the canvas sections in Moyer’s works were painted thinly with acrylic paint, but here her works incorporate an underlying layer of plaster that nods to classical fresco and stucco walls and endows surfaces greater range and nuance. Moyer further explores surface effects in the recent backgammon boards on view. These are constructed from marble and poured, pigmented concrete. Standing atop custom wooden tables, the two backgammon works in the exhibition are complete with benches and custom game pieces. Visitors are invited to play.
Primarily a painter, Eddie Martinez is widely admired for an expansive practice spanning mediums. His paintings and works on paper feature shapes that nestle into other shapes; opacity and translucency collide; and naturally occurring elements like footprints and debris suggest oscillation between abstraction and figural realism. While Martinez’s art has been linked to that of past masters, his sui generis oeuvre defies simple classification.
At South Etna, Martinez’s works on view introduce a new technique. Produced in residence at Dieu-Donné, the renowned non-profit paper mill and studio devoted to artistic innovation, the artist’s latest works feature handmade paper that Martinez has painted with pigment suspended in linen pulp while the surface is still wet. By painting on paper with paper, as well as drying the entire work under pressure, he has fused layers of brush effects into a single bravura totality where the distinction between image and ground, surface and support disappear. Butterflies and flowers escape their pages; bright mushrooms and yin-yangs nestle among seemingly abstract patterns and shapes. In one work on view in the exhibition, layers of white paint in varying degrees of opacity provide a glimpse at colors beneath: reds, pinks, greens, and yellows hide among the whites.
Each of Martinez’s works is, in essence, an action painting that reveals and celebrates process. And while some elements of his paintings hover near abstraction, images culled from nature are central to each composition. The artist’s affection for flora and fauna is tangible, the result of his vivid palette, intentionally imprecise lines, crowded composition, and traces of motion left visible as evidence of the working process.