Eddie Martinez could have been a drummer. Or a bass player. The rhythm for which he moves from painting to painting, stroke to stroke (you could even say, year to year), carries a certain discernible beat and backbone to a greater whole. It's not quite mellifluous, because each brush stroke is a note that is a conversation with itself and something that feels very internal for the painter, but it carries a sort of foundation for which we think of the act of painting. There are no solos, just complete command of the songwriting.
Thirteen years after the Brooklyn-based painter first show at Loyal Gallery in Stockholm, Martinez is back with New Paintings 2, on view through May 15, 2021. Even in the title of the show we see the artist isn't concerned with overwrought declarations. These are paintings, I am a painter, they seem to say. But that does it a bit of a disservice, as over the last decade, Martinez has emerged at the forefront of contemporary painting, carrying the torch of 20th century masters and in his own way, combining figurative thoughts that sort of flow in and out of his bodies of works as signature ideas. But that they don't always show up, how the blockheads or even a few figures in New Paintings 2 appear every so often, demonstrates a constant studio practice. The internalization of work ethic and output allows for these shapes to come out and not seem forgotten, but almost like internal thoughts that just need to be honed in on when presented.
Amy Giunta and Martin Lilja wrote in a wonderful essay attached to the show that Martinez's work is "Retaining the power of abstraction, but all the while reaching out for form." As if in a dialogue with the great abstract painters of the past, Martinez is bringing a fresh perspective to what continuum means in art, and what we can learn from relentless process.