Create your first list.

A way to share and manage lots.

  • Provenance

    ZieherSmith, New York
    Private Collection
    Phillips, New York, 17 May 2013, Lot 258
    Private Collection, New York
    Heather James Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Up in Arms #2 is a captivating example of how American visual contemporary artist, Eddie Martinez uniquely fuses elements of pure abstraction with figuration on his lively canvases. Resembling the erratic spontaneity of a doodle, Martinez’s strong painterly strokes actually reveal a sophisticated approach. Employing a combination of acrylic, oil and spray paint, Up in Arms #2 presents the viewer with abstract blocks of colour that co-exist alongside more defined forms, including a large red droplet, a spotted green tree, and a yellow chair outlined in red. A breasted bird-like figure appears to orchestrate the action from the centre of the canvas, with outstretched wings that allude to the work’s title. The dynamic imagery is contained within a rectangular frame, juxtaposing the negative space that surrounds the frame’s perimeter. Consequently, the eye is immediately drawn towards the exuberant colours and energetic brushwork. With so much activity, viewers may not know where to look - yet the work’s highly engaging nature stops them from wanting to look away.

    As seen in the present lot, Martinez’s practice pushes the boundaries of what constitutes painting as he explores characteristics that nod to both the cultural appeal of street art, as well as the dialect of art history. Examining the layers of a Martinez painting reveal his sources of inspiration, ranging from cave paintings to Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism, to graffiti and popular urban culture. Martinez’s style also draws from his deep understanding of the traditions of classical painting techniques, which he transforms in his own work through his personal iconography.

    Executed in 2009, Up in Arms #2 draws particularly on Martinez’s admiration for the “speed and abandon of control” present in the work of CoBrA artists Asger Jorn and Karel Appel, whose practices he discovered that same year (the artist quoted in Bill Powers, “‘I Needed to Figure Out Something I Could Make Myself’: A Talk With Eddie Martinez”, Artnews, 25 January 2016, online). Working rapidly, Martinez first creates spray paint sketches, before turning to acrylic and oil paint traditional media to apply line and colour with a variety of brush-sizes and motions. The speed with which the artist works is evident in his brushwork, as the coarseness of Martinez’s gestural lines suggests an aggressive application technique. Martinez has even likened his artistic methods to that of a boxing match, in which the opponent is his canvas and the first move is stepping forward to make contact. After contact has occurred, he will then step back to regroup before he connects again. Most prominent in the present lot’s vibrantly contrasting smears, the result of Martinez’s dynamic approach are compositions that appear simultaneously accidental, whilst also deliberately confident. Critically lauded for his “exceptional gifts as a painter and draftsman, which he exuberantly combines” (Roberta Smith, The New York Times, 11 February 2010), Martinez’s practice is unapologetically bold and uniquely his own.

    Since bursting onto the scene in the mid-2000s, Martinez has presented solo exhibitions at prominent museums and institutions, including the Bronx Museum, New York (2018), the Drawing Center, New York (2017) and the Davis Museum, Wellesley (2017). Alongside numerous private collections, Martinez’s work forms part of notable public collections such as the Saatchi Collection in London and the Morgan Library in New York.


Up in Arms #2

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'EM.09' lower left
acrylic, oil and spray paint on canvas
153 x 183 cm. (60 1/4 x 72 in.)
Executed in 2009.

HK$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for HK$5,070,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2019