In June 2017 Unit London presented the first major solo exhibition of London-based artist, Will Martyr. 'Wanderlust' presented sixteen new large-scale paintings from the artist’s most recent body of work. Questioning how today’s mass-consumption of imagery affects our perception of reality and notion of personal experience and memory, Martyr’s paintings transport us into an alienated dream world of utopian promise.
At once recalling Bauhaus, Surrealism, Futurism, David Hockney, Pop Art and Russian Intourist posters of the 1930s, Martyr’s paintings present hyperreal depictions of infnity pools, postcard-perfect mountains and luxury residences. Seductive yet unsettling, they are reminiscent of the glossy and pristine images of architectural, interior design or holiday magazines. Eerily devoid of human presence, the viewer is free to construct their own version of reality and the story behind the setting. With titles such as I’ll Make it Alright (2017), Beautiful Wife (2017), and Everything is Golden (2016) the paintings present the same allure of advertising and branding, inviting the viewer into the painting, yearning to experience the hidden interiors depicted. As we avert our eyes from troubling realities in favour of airbrushed hyper reality, the empty perfection of Martyr’s paintings prompts us to consider the darkness that exists beyond the perfect horizon and either side of the canvas.
Utilising a myriad of photography, found images and personal experiences, Martyr computer generates his images before projecting them onto the canvas. Intensely methodical and precise, he often spends days masking and planning his compositions before carefully choosing the colour combinations to complete the work. While operating within a rigid framework that strives for linear perfection, Martyr manages to conjure profoundly emotional and moving works of art that redefne the aesthetic of painting in the new media age.