I knew alarmingly little of Mandy Martin (why is that the more I write the less I find out I know?), but went to her exhibition expecting not to like her work, perhaps partly due to the somewhat hideous image on the invite. How unprepared I was.
First step in the door, first work, I am in love. This is painting. Real live thick impasto washed and bled big as you can afford to make it painting. Hallelujah.
Martin is obviously a master of her craft, creating images that are at once commandingly solid and stunningly luminous, resting somewhere between realism and other-worldliness. Her large-scale pieces are completely immersive, emitting a shimmering, mirage-like quality that finds me holding my breathe lest they disappear. I can immediately see that the reproductions used in the promotional material have fallen way short in capturing what is so alive in these works.
The exhibition is Mandy Martin: Painting 1981-2009, organised and shown by the Canberra Museum and Gallery. I am flabbergasted that it has taken me so long to discover Martin, being that she is Canberran and was affiliated with the School of Art for many years. I wish I could travel back in time and show this work to first-year art student me, to say ‘this is how it’s done’.
For the first time in years I feel like painting…