Sam Martineau

Sam Martineau Interview - By Steven Cox

The work of Sam Martineau was first brought to the attention of HUNTED PROJECTS whilst viewing David Zwirner Galleries exhibition People Who Work Here.  The exhibition itself was an interesting concept, curated by Brooklyn based Rawson Projects, who's co-directors James Morrill and Chris Rawson also work for David Zwirner.  The concept of the exhibition was primarily to bridge the isolated worlds of New York's emerging and established galleries through exhibiting the emerging artists of Rawson Projects within the established walls of David Zwirner.

The exhibition was a tour de force and was a great opportunity to discover some exciting emerging artists who currently show with Rawson Projects. The work of Sam Martineau grabbed HUNTED PROJECTS attention, his abstract paintings reflect mid-century American graphic design though his abstract language of repetitive shapes and forms further his personalised approach to painting. 

Sam Martineau's second solo exhibition with Rawson Projects, Fair Touching, opens on Saturday 15th September 2012, 6-8pm and runs from September 15 - October 21, 2012.  

The Fair Touching exhibition catalogue can be viewed here.

Can you tell HUNTED PROJECTS about yourself and creative background?

SM: I grew up in Springfield, and Yellow Springs, Ohio before moving to Cleveland where I attended the five-year program at the Art Institute (1993-1998). I later moved to New York to attend the BARD Milton Avery School of Fine Arts Masters Program (1998-2001). I live and work in Brooklyn.

How would you describe your regular working day within your studio environment? 


SM: A lot of the time is spent simply looking at the work.  Drawing, sketching on index cards, reading notations from index cards and sifting through source material.

Harkening back to your education in the late 90's, I noticed that you briefly studied in Scotland at the Edinburgh College of Art.  Can you discuss how this experience developed or influenced you at all during your BA or MFA?

SM: During my studies in Cleveland I was fortunate enough to participate in the exchange program in Edinburgh. It was a great experience. Very cool to be 23 and hanging out with other artists / students in another part of the world. The (bar-café) Wee Red was unique. Friday nights people who do one night shows, DJ and dance. I enjoyed that a lot, meeting new faces… noted, the painter and writer Kate McCrickard and good friend Shuggy Hughes.

During my stay in Edinburgh, I didn’t actually live with art students. One guy was a musician and the other worked at the nightclub La Belle Angele. Saying that, I feel that I was turned onto things outside of the academic environment and again, met another group of people I might not have otherwise.

I had the chance to travel for a month before the fall term began which probably had the greatest impact on me.  Observations & notations on trains, sketching in museums and parks throughout Europe.  Somewhere in this time I remember seeing the movies “Dead Man” (Jarmusch) & “Trainspotting” (Boyle). In my mind the cross section of these two films makes sense. Someone traveling on train from Cleveland & ending up on Princes Street to the sounds of ‘Born Slippy” or “Temptation”. This seems to sum up the absorption of new experiences associated with that period.

From what I remember, the paintings at that time dealt with the idea of motion, so I think there's some relevance there.

Lastly, such a pleasant thought having worked in the studio of a school knowing there’s a Blinky Palermo somewhere in the layers of paint on the entrance walls.

The Trio is a musical reference that is visualized throughout your abstract works as an identifiable form that resembles the P within the Pirelli logo.  Is there a direct connection you are making between jazz music and car racing?

SM: In the works mentioned, “Trio” & “P” …  Each painting is coming from the same pool of personal interests but I cant say there is a direct connection between the two. I collect various records - jazz, punk, rock, classical, etc… The 1978 Indy 500 was my first introduction to car culture. Both, album covers and the graphics found in auto racing provide a great resource within my work. Somewhere between arrangement, pace, streamlining & swing there are bound to be overlaps, yet from painting to painting, each has its own beginning. Singularly providing a look that has a feel.

An interest within graphic design is apparent throughout your work, where sharp edged geometric forms are over-lay printed designs or images, such as Oskars (2010) or Lets Go (2007).  Can you expand on your reasoning for combining painterly abstractions upon appropriated materials?  How selective are you with the materials that you find? 

SM: Combining modes of painting with various collected materials derives from collage that has remained a constant in the studio. Collecting images from magazines, food packaging, record covers, newspapers etc… that are later incorporated into collages / works on paper. In 2007 I began treating some of the paintings in a similar manner… assembling found materials onto muslin and painting on top of them. It was a way to activate the ground of the painting and to deal with collage on a larger scale.

Over time there has been the development of particular forms, repetition of right angles, diagonals, squares, rectangles. Introducing found materials to this language of painting was a way to further personalize the abstraction.

The selection process of materials I’ve always thought of as “ things that pass through hands”, things you touch.  I feel this somehow gives the viewer an automatic in or identification to the work.

The specifics of selecting these materials again revolve around personal interests and the act of painting in general… choosing a shape, choosing a color… veils of information. Keeping an eye out for the potential in things and having it maintain a dialogue in the studio. Some of the newer paintings are on patterned fabrics, T-shirts and translucent plastics.

Your Solo exhibition entitled Fair Touching is set to open at Rawson Projects on the 15th September, would it be possible if you can tell us a little about what to expect within the exhibition?

SM: Trying to push variation….

Sam Martineau

All images are courtesy of Sam Martineau and Rawson Projects