JoAnne Artman Gallery opens its doors to DISINTEGRATION, a showing of Martin Adalian’s most recent paintings that explore the disintegration of memory, material, and of past and present. Appearing as though recovered relics with aged facades and canvas imperfections, Adalian’s paintings fuse contemporary aesthetics of mixed media and grunge with classical portraiture. Establishing new, modern context for his portraits, Adalian imbues an audacious attitude alongside a deep appreciation toward tradition. Through his distinct combination of old and new, his works promote the retrospection of artistic innovation and human emotion while navigating the complex, cyclical nature of disintegration and rebirth.
In this new series, Adalian continues his exploration of incorporating contemporary styles with the iconography of European art history. Inspired by the Vatican museum’s ancient portraits of Caesars, philosophers, slaves, and proletariats from the Roman Empire, Adalian concluded that people’s faces do not change, and that modern faces are in actuality, very ancient. Forging a connection between modern art and classical, his recreations prioritize the commonalities of mankind and the continuity of life and tradition rather than identifiable depictions.
Embracing the concept of disintegration, his canvases are punctuated with tears and lacerations, exposing stretcher bars and distorting aspects of the portrait to echo the damaged works of the Vatican’s collection. Mimicking the distressed appearances of the ancient works and their occasional missing facial features, embellishments of tar and acrylic impasto create a multi-dimensional and multi-textual effect. Maintaining a color palette of rich earth tones and dramatic lighting, the application of thick swaths of paint and tar is concurrently spontaneous and strategic- establishing focal points and redirecting the viewer to areas of elaborate detail. Boldly emphasizing the physicality of his mark making process, Adalian further breaches the boundaries of the conventional modes of portraiture.
MARTIN ADALIAN (b. 1972, Yerevan, Armenia) graduated from the Terlemezian Art College of Yerevan, Armenia before moving to the United States in 1990. He started painting when he was three years old as a result of growing up amongst a dynasty of family artists including his father, uncle, and cousins. Adalian has exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe, and Russia.
Martin Adalian: Disintegration will be on view from July 1 through August 15, 2021 at JoAnne Artman Gallery, 511A West 22nd Street, NYC.