Martin Wittfooth “Gardens” Dec 10 - Jan 9


Martin Wittfooth is taking large steps with each thematic fine art installation of paintings and three-dimensional works. Back in February, I had the pleasure of witnessing the installation of “Tempest” at the Copro Gallery in Santa Monica featuring a large wind blown shack.

Martin Wittfooth at Laguna Museum and Paul Frank too
Martin was filmed installing his storm twisted shack for the next installment of the documentary “Scribble” and wouldn’t you know his dwelling ended up in Laguna Museum’s Art Shack exhibition back in July. (You can still check this out until October 3). On to July 22, Martin traveled in to San Diego to introduce his painting, “Sanctuary” featured in “Survey Select” curated by me (Mark Murphy).

Martin Wittfooth and Jon Todd installing at Copro

And now? Martin Wittfooth is a tireless advocate of conceptualization development in the tradition of painted narrative. Martin mangles the beauty of nature with the abandoned cityscape left behind by humankind. Nature is at odds within its unspoken political system and a realignment of species struggling for survival is afoot in Martin’s visual display of oil on canvas. Martin continues his exploration of these themes in a new collection of paintings and dimensional works entitled, “Gardens,” December 10 through January 7 at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle, Washington.

Martin’s new collection is rich in color, texture and delivers profound intensity. Thankfully, Martin took a moment to share some of his thoughts…

Sanctuary in progress

mm : Survey Select featured your oil painting “Sanctuary” and when analyzing the piece up close it seems that there is a duality between safe and harm. Please describe your thoughts, as you created this piece.

MW : I wanted this painting to play on the concept of adaptation—nature carrying on with business as usual in an entirely foreign and inorganic, manmade setting. I laid out the piece with the idea of making the manmade environment highly symmetrical, while the living elements in the piece follow natural forms. I’ve inserted little stories or narratives inside this larger composition, most of them dealing with some element of dependency: one life is reliant on that of another, and so forth. As some of these scenes play out—or are just about to play out —violently, the title of the piece deliberately oxymoronic.

Red Soil

mm : You have a new body of work currently underway for your December Roq La Rue Gallery show. What is the title and theme of the work you are creating?

MW : The title of the upcoming show is “Gardens.” The series explores themes that I’ve occasionally touched on in my work but until now haven't made an overarching focus for a whole body of work. What appears consistently in these paintings are organic plant elements that parasitically make hosts of both the manufactured (manmade) and the flesh, fur and feathers of animals. My reasoning for taking this direction with this series stems from a wish to respond on an allegorical level to an increasingly haywire relationship and confusion contemporary human society has with the natural world and the forced assimilations that take place when the two inevitably meet. Much of the work deals with death, but also the hope of renewal. I’m intrigued by tension and aspire to insert this element into each piece on some level.

Devil’s Playground

mm : It seems that many artists are taking on environmental and cataclysmic themes. Do you think this is a new art movement in painting? Do you think it is a response to the Mayan calendar theory of no more time? And/or do you think artists are trying to take a more active role in environmental awareness and response? Feel free to expand on one or more points.

MW : Artists are visual communicators. We generally aspire to channel our thoughts and reflections about our world through our creations, so it stands to reason that much artwork from this time touches on these issues, which are so extensively addressed with alarm in other fields and we are all exposed to. Some may take a more cataclysmic viewpoint and their artwork in turn will likely reflect that. To be honest, I’m somewhat surprised (and simultaneously, not) at the still widely prevailing appetite—harbored by both artists and their followers—for artwork that doesn't take any stance or stab at the wealth of issues that concern us collectively. Maybe it’s a desire to maintain an illusion of the status quo, I’m not sure. I would like to say though that I’m not of the opinion that an artist has any inherent responsibility to translate their opinion into their medium of expression, we should and are free to talk about anything we choose to in our works. My hope with my own work is to on some level contribute to the dialogue of awareness.

On the set for an upcoming documentary

mm : What is next in the world of Martin Wittfooth? I hear you are moving south for a bit. What are painting themes you would like to further explore?

MW : My fiancé Elizabeth is doing her MFA at Savannah College of Art and Design, so I'll be joining her down there for a year or two in December. I’m full up with work over the next couple of years anyway, so even though the location changes significantly, it’ll be just as hectic down there. Just as hectic but minus winters and close to the beach, so I forecast that I'll have as many distractions down there as I do now, but just different ones. Savannah is pretty sweet: small town but beautiful and bike-friendly. I’ll be curating a show in Santa Monica next year and involved in some stellar group shows throughout 2011. After that, I’m getting down to work on a solo show in Los Angeles taking place in the Fall of 2012.

Visiting the studio and Sanctuary sketch on the board

Thanks to Martin Wittfooth for taking time out. We all look forward to checking out “Gardens” at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle December 10. Also, “Sanctuary” is available for acquisition, please contact me for more information.

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