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First there was perspective… then there was Martin Weinstein

June 14, 2010

Martin Weinstein opened yesterday at Allen Projects, his second solo show with the gallery.  Last year, his show consisted of approximately 6 large format paintings; this year, the work is smaller in size and more intimate.

But why, you say, the comment about perspective?  School children can explain perspective these days – the vanishing point, objects closer sized larger and more detailed, objects further sized smaller and less detailed, closer objects are more intensely colored, further objects are fainter in color.  Perspective gives trompe l’oeuil feeling to two-dimensional spaces.  You, the viewer are at a remove from the image but you know that the largest object is the closest to you and the smallest is further removed.  Your visual sense is fooled by the change in dimension.

Martin Weinstein uses these techniques but then brings genuine depth to his paintings through his use of layers of acrylic sheets.  Depending upon the size of the painting and what he’s painting, Martin will use up to 8 sheets of acrylic.  He paints on each sheet, sometimes only on the front, sometimes on front and back.  He carefully layers each sheet to build depth and reflection.

We were concerned last year that the work would not physically hold up.  Experimental work using unusual media can be ephemeral.  Martin explained that he had conducted a physical experiment under the guidance of a scientist.  The result was that an acrylic sheet would last 100 years out in the elements; if indoors under the sort of controlled environment that most of us live in, an acrylic sheet would last indefinitely without changing color or breaking down.

Martin’s work defines a new paradigm – genuinely 3D painting.  The bottom layer is the furthest from view.  Intermediate layers are closer.  The front layer is close enough to touch; it’s right there.  He uses distance carefully and to great effect.

Martin has a wonderfully delicate touch with his oils and an immaculate sense of color.  He draws beautifully and knows when to use a color wash and when to use opaque pigments.

Think how difficult this technique is.  You have to work in 3 dimensions.  You have to plan each layer and know which objects are going to be emphasized on each one, how it will play with the lower one(s) and how it will support the higher one(s) – not only shape and shadow, but color, each layer.  This is not only artistic work, it is architected.

Martin trained as an abstract painter and then evolved to this version of realism.

There is only one downside to his work – a photograph flattens the layers so that the you really see what I’ve been talking about.

The solo show at Allen Projects is open through May 30.  Go and see his small floral paintings while you can.  You’ll be able to see a few other images at allengalleryonline.com and more at Martin’s own website, martinweinstein.com (although these are older paintings, none more recent than 2008).

Martin is a major talent.  One day I hope to enjoy his work at NYC’s art museums.  In fact, let’s challenge them to see who gets there first.

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