Kai Peter Martin
About the Artist
Kai Peter Martin’s work uses a variety of drawing and painting techniques to address his interest in the relationship between people and their environment, often combining multiple perspectives into a complex pictorial space. Recent work incorporates a new material—pigmented paper pulp plaster—that is used first to form the image sculpturally and then as a surface for drawing and painting. A playful awareness of the artificiality of images is balanced by an enthusiasm for the way they can shift our vision of the world. Born in Austin, Martin received a BA in Painting from Reed College in Portland, Oregon and an MFA in Drawing and Painting at the University of North Texas
When I am composing a drawing or painting, I begin by working from many scattered images – images collected from my own archive as well as newspaper clippings, images from books, and film stills – and from these I invent an environment that alludes to real space but tips towards the irrational. Perspective is distorted, spaces are stacked on top of one another, the environment flattens out in places. Figures are drawn into the environment and develop connections, and when they collect in groups the relationships are tense and dissonant. The space they occupy is similarly discordant – certain areas give visual cues to spatial depth while others dissolve into marks on the surface. The final picture does not represent the physical world but is evocative of an irrational environment full of connections both latent and clear.
Though my process for composing a picture is largely intuitive, the content of my work is directed by two key interests. The first is my sense of the power and complexity of human relationships, both with each other and with the natural world. The second is my fascination with instabilities in both visual and linguistic modes of communication. Writing develops along with the imagery of my work in the initial stages, and fragments of text are sometimes included (though not always apparent) in the final piece as well. Working between the two modes – the pictorial and the linguistic – allows me opportunities to discover those slippery places I am after, where direct communication breaks down but new, unexpected possibilities spring up from its remains.