Eddie Martinez - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection, USA (acquired directly from the artist)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Eddie Martinez is ‘indomitable’, exclaimed Interview Magazine (David Coggins, ‘Eddie Martinez’, Interview Magazine, 29 November 2008, online). Since bursting onto the scene in the mid 2000s, Martinez has tantalised with works evocative of Abstract Expressionism yet amped-up with a raw urban edge, and gained international recognition for his masterful composition, dynamic use of line and exuberant colour palette. Widely collected, Martinez has exhibited internationally, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Davis Museum at Wellesley College, the Saatchi Gallery, Timothy Taylor and Perrotin.

    Martinez is a complex artist drawn to risk taking. His more figurative earlier works, with his personal set of iconography – recurrent cartoonish characters and animals with oversized eyes, floating heads, flower bouquets, the moon – established him as an artist and comparisons to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning, and Philip Guston have often been drawn. Yet having initially attracted attention for his ‘exceptional gifts as a painter and draftsman, which he exuberantly combines’ (Roberta Smith, New York Times, 11 February 2010), Martinez became ‘wholly committed to abandoning people’s expectations’ (quoted in an interview with Nick Ravich, in digital documentary film series ‘New York Close Up’, Art21.org, 2012, online).

    Untitled marks this exciting turning point in Martinez’s career, as the artist gravitated towards presenting ideas in an abstract manner. This large scale canvas painting is a visual blitz of colour, shape, line and form. Martinez’s distinctive palette of primary colours is punctuated with black and white, as well as other hues spanning the colour spectrum. Expressive manipulation of the linear plane, fluid lines spray-painted and dripping in places, sharp contours revealed by scraping away still-wet paint, spontaneous scratches, and graffiti elements are instinctively executed. Motion springs from the coarse, sweeping brushstrokes. Complexities of texture abound; thick impastos sit next to translucent layers of paint and blurred edges. In an interview, Martinez compared painting to boxing (in an interview with Nick Ravich, in digital documentary film series ‘New York Close Up’, Art21.org, 2012, online): drawing parallels to the jabbing, bobbing and weaving, pausing, strategising, harnessing of aggressive energy through the very physical process of painting. The deceptively simple composition, amorphous shapes and blocks of colour, seem to conceal the artist’s signature motifs – a sideway turning figure glaring with a large eye, raising his arm under the moon. This is made all the more mysterious by the white diamond shape staring back blankly, evoking an eye void of emotion.

    In this painting, Martinez energises and engages the mind. Evolving stylistically between representation and abstraction, the artist ultimately relinquishes control and leaves the viewer to discern what they wish. Martinez once described his style as ‘messy explosions of Picassos’ (Ted Loos, ‘Eddie Martinez’s Triumphant Abstractions Land at the Bronx Museum of the Arts’, Cultured Magazine, 13 November 2018, online). Here, he successfully recreates this sentiment.

    Born in Connecticut on a naval base, Eddie Martinez grew up throughout the USA, and briefly attended art school in Boston. Having spent his adolescent years as a graffiti artist, and perhaps without the constraints of a formal education, Martinez’s art simultaneously references canonical art, pop culture, and street art.



signed with the artist's initials and dated 'EM.12' lower left
oil, enamel and spray paint on canvas
182.9 x 152.4 cm. (72 x 60 in.)
Executed in 2012.

HK$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for HK$2,500,000

Contact Specialist

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019