Fast Serve: A Conversation with Eddie Martinez
The Art and Energy of Eddie Martinez
When discussing the work of a revered artist like Eddie Martinez, it’s natural to focus on painting and painters. However, a conversation with Martinez reveals that his interests extend beyond the boundaries of his craft. From discussing tennis and strategy to the art of collecting, Martinez’s energy and passion are palpable. His artwork emanates a hypnotic quality, characterized by “exhausting compositions” that serve as indicators of a lifetime dedicated to art. In this article, we delve into Martinez’s artistic journey and the influences that have shaped his remarkable career.
An Organic Shift in Schedule
As a painter, Martinez doesn’t adhere to a rigid schedule, especially now with a newborn. He spends his weekdays in the studio, but the arrival of his child has naturally brought about a change in his routine. Nonetheless, Martinez feels a renewed clarity, directness, and confidence in his work. The effect of this shift has unfolded organically, without the need for conscious proclamation.
The Evolution of Artistic Output
When discussing the progression of artistic output with age, Martinez agrees that painting offers a different trajectory compared to music. While musicians often produce their best work in their youth, fueled by raw energy, painters tend to hit their peak as they mature and slow down. Martinez reflects on the concept of “mature work,” emphasizing that it is rarely attributed to young artists. Throughout history, recognition has been reserved for artists, particularly women, who have dedicated decades of their lives to their craft.
A 65-Foot Painting in Shanghai
The vibrancy and energy of Martinez’s work can be felt, even when viewing it through a small screen. His massive 65-foot painting showcased in Shanghai left a lasting impression on viewers. Martinez himself finds inspiration in both his own work and the creations of other artists. He recalls viewing a painting by Helen Frankenthaler that evoked a range of emotions and exemplified the power of artistic expression. These experiences fuel his own artistic drive and motivate him to always keep creating.
The Allure of Abstraction and Speed
For Martinez, the appeal of abstraction lies in its speed and immediacy. He is captivated by artwork that conveys a sense of constant motion, even if the process behind its creation may have taken significant time. Artists like Picasso and Joan Mitchell, who worked quickly and passionately, resonate with Martinez. The dynamic nature of their work sparks a desire within him to pick up a brush and create art that retains the same sense of movement and vitality.
The Power of Exhausting Compositions
Martinez finds inspiration in artists who exhaust compositions and imagery over time. Exploring these elements repeatedly allows for natural evolution and prevents the inclusion of contrived elements or forced narratives. This dynamic approach enables Martinez to reintroduce figures or motifs into his work years later, seamlessly blending their presence with the overall composition. The fluidity of this process is essential to maintaining authenticity in his artistic expression.
The Influence of Picasso and Constant Creation
Martinez draws inspiration from Picasso’s voluminous body of work and relentless pursuit of creative output. The sheer amount of art that Picasso produced throughout his life fuels Martinez’s own desire to keep creating. Picasso’s approach of consistently reworking and exhausting compositions resonates with Martinez, instilling him with confidence and motivating him to follow a similar path.
The Natural Flow of Artistic Process
Martinez finds that revisiting compositions from the past allows him to explore new perspectives while maintaining a sense of natural progression. He emphasizes that this approach enables him to create work that doesn’t feel contrived or forced. Elements may appear and disappear over the years, but they seamlessly integrate with the larger narrative, allowing for organic growth and exploration. Martinez’s ongoing series, such as the Blockheads, exemplify this process of continual evolution and reinvention.
The Everlasting Energy of Youth
Despite the passage of time, Martinez remains moved by the same artistic influences that inspired him in his younger years. Artists like Guston continue to captivate him, highlighting the enduring power of their work. While his consumption of new art has slowed over time, Martinez still finds excitement and inspiration in discovering previously unknown artists, such as Alan Davie, whose paintings he admires.
Size Matters: Scaling Up and Finding Comfort
In terms of canvas size, Martinez finds comfort and a sense of artistic freedom in working at a larger scale. His sweet spot lies in creating paintings that are 6 x 9 feet, offering ample space to explore his ideas and techniques. Smaller canvases, on the other hand, often feel restrictive and impede Martinez’s ability to freely express himself. Despite this preference, he recognizes that different artists have diverse working styles and find inspiration in varying canvas sizes.
The Intersection of Tennis and Painting
As an avid tennis fan, Martinez sees a clear connection between the sport and his artistic practice. Both activities engage similar parts of his brain and trigger intense focus and obsession. Drawing parallels between tennis and art, Martinez explains that they share mental, emotional, and physical elements, often resembling a complex game of chess. Federer, with his graceful movement, remains Martinez’s favorite tennis player and serves as a source of inspiration.
The David Foster Wallace Connection
Drawing parallels between Martinez’s work and David Foster Wallace’s essay on Roger Federer, one can observe a common thread of detailing grace and freestyle. Martinez appreciates Wallace’s essay for its deep understanding of the sport and its ability to capture the essence of an athlete. The essay resonates with Martinez’s own approach to painting, where he strives to strike a balance between grace and improvisation.
The Value of Utilitarian Painting Jobs
Martinez reflects on his experience as a house painter and emphasizes the value of working in a field related to art. He believes that being an art handler in a gallery, institution, or shipping company provides invaluable exposure to a wide range of artwork. Handling and being in close proximity to paintings, hearing the vocabulary used to describe them, and witnessing their display aids in the development of an artist’s discerning eye. Martinez, despite admitting he was a poor art handler, recognizes the impact that such jobs can have on one’s artistic sensibilities.
The Takeaways from Creating an Epic Painting
Creating a monumental 65-foot painting like the one showcased in Shanghai has had a profound impact on Martinez’s artistic journey. It has enhanced his painting technique, instilled confidence, and offered a much-needed boost. While the opportunity may be a singular one, the lessons learned and growth experienced during the process continue to shape his artistic practice.
Pilgrimage-Worthy Art Destinations
Martinez shares his admiration for various art destinations that he considers pilgrimage-worthy. The Louisiana Museum in Denmark, with its awe-inspiring landscape and thoughtfully curated art exhibitions, stands out as an extraordinary venue. Martinez also mentions the Pollock-Krasner House in Long Island, formerly a place of personal inspiration and reflection. Looking to the future, he expresses a desire to explore the Art Island of Naoshima in Japan, anticipating the transformative experience it is said to offer.
The Art of Collecting
Collecting has been an integral part of Martinez’s life since childhood, whether it was stamps, coins, comics, or artwork. He emphasizes that collecting has become an inseparable aspect of his artistic practice. Martinez suggests that becoming an art handler in a gallery, museum, or shipping company offers invaluable exposure to a variety of artworks and fosters a deeper understanding of the art world. As an artist and collector, Martinez finds pleasure and inspiration in discovering new pieces and expanding his collection.
Seeking the Unusual: Ronald Reagan’s Doodles
Martinez admits to harboring a peculiar desire to own a drawing by Ronald Reagan. These intriguing doodles, often found on White House letterhead, possess an unexpected and sometimes disconcerting quality. Martinez finds intrigue in seemingly mundane objects that promise to unveil hidden stories or unique perspectives. He considers it an ongoing quest to find extraordinary and thought-provoking artifacts, challenging conventional definitions of what constitutes collectible material.
In our fascinating conversation with Eddie Martinez, we explored the dynamic link between his artistic process and personal experiences. His art reflects an energy that transcends canvas sizes and age, conveying a sense of perpetual motion and evolution. From intense tennis matches to invaluable exposure to artwork as an art handler, Martinez finds inspiration in the intersections of different aspects of life. The pilgrimage-worthy art destinations he has encountered have left indelible impressions, motivating him to continue creating and collecting. As a true art lover and subject-matter expert, Eddie Martinez exemplifies the passion and dedication necessary for artistic growth and innovation.
1. Can you elaborate on Eddie Martinez’s artistic influences?
Eddie Martinez draws inspiration from a diverse range of artists, including Guston, Picasso, and Joan Mitchell. These artists’ ability to create with speed and intensity resonates deeply with Martinez. He also expresses admiration for women artists who have often been overlooked in the past, such as Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, and Lee Krasner.
2. How does Eddie Martinez’s artwork evolve over time?
Martinez’s art evolves naturally, with elements appearing and reappearing in his work as he explores different perspectives and experiences. His compositions and motifs transform over the years, reflecting the evolution of his artistic style and personal growth. Martinez’s commitment to continuous learning and experimentation ensures that his artwork remains dynamic and authentic.
3. How does Eddie Martinez’s passion for tennis influence his artistic practice?
Tennis and painting share a common ground in Martinez’s mind. They both require mental, emotional, and physical energy, demanding intense focus and dedication. Martinez finds inspiration in the movement and grace of tennis players like Roger Federer, translating that energy into his artwork. The strategic nature of tennis also parallels the decision-making processes involved in creating art.
4. What can aspiring artists learn from Eddie Martinez’s career?
Eddie Martinez’s career offers valuable lessons for aspiring artists. His dedication, continuous exploration, and commitment to creating art have been instrumental in his growth and success. Martinez emphasizes the importance of exposing oneself to diverse artworks, embracing experimentation, and finding one’s unique artistic voice. He also encourages aspiring artists to immerse themselves in the art world, whether through working as art handlers or engaging in active art collecting.
5. What is Eddie Martinez’s perspective on the art world?
Eddie Martinez appreciates the art world for its diverse expressions and the opportunities it presents for growth and exploration. He values the interconnectedness of different artists, art movements, and historical contexts. Martinez believes in the power of art to evoke emotions, challenge conventions, and inspire both artists and viewers alike. His engagement with the art world, both as an artist and a collector, demonstrates his deep love and fascination for the creative process.