Friday, September 04, 2015

Abstracting the Present with the Past

“Making art is a way to get to understand ourselves,
our way of being in the world.

Martin Golland

The painter Marin Golland had a nomadic childhood. Born in France, Golland and his family lived in Turkey, Puerto Rico and Miami before eventually settling in the Canadian city of Toronto. And it was whilst he was living in the Caribbean that painting and drawing became a serious interest.

As he told the quarterly 1968 Magazine “I was being home-schooled at the time, so, needless to say, I had a lot of time in my hands. I’d leave the house after breakfast and come back only when I got hungry, at dinner-time. What a luxury, now that I think back, to be able to drift around and simply occupy yourself with your surroundings. We lived in a hilly town called Humacao, known for its banana plantations and Pentecostal churches which dotted the hillsides. This is when I started to take drawing seriously, and venture into watercolor, at around 7. It was in this tropical environment that I gravitated to making pictures in earnest, mostly as a way to occupy my time during the quiet, hot hours of the afternoon.

It while he was in grade school in Miami that Golland determined to become an artist.

“Our history class had a bio page on Picasso, who, as a kid, copied his dad’s paintings in chalk. I thought “If he can be an artist at nine, so can I,” he has recalled.

But it was not until he was at university that Golland discovered the joys of working with oil paint that today is his primary medium.

As he says “I came to oil paint late, actually. It was a medium I loathed for the longest time. It was so serious! I thought I needed to become a good artist before I could paint in oils, so I delayed working with them until University. Now, it’s a medium that is all encompassing. It resists doing what you want it to. It’s both frustrating and rewarding. You can’t "learn" oils, you just hop on and go for the ride and hope you arrive kind of where you wanted to go to begin with.

And for Golland that ride is to use the past to inform the present in a way that questions the notion of what is represented and offer other ways to interpret the visible.

As he explained to Tali Dudin in the video 120 seconds with Martin Golland “One of the tasks of the artist is to go into the past and rummage through and find things that are, that will resonate in the present…What I’m talking about is [the] ideas surrounding painting. Painting from the past and what painting is in the present. But it’s also about a curiosity I have with the past and what will still be meaningful in the present…For me, I like to talk about aspects of perception and vision. And I’m very curious about what happens when things are slightly not what they appear to be.”

Golland’s current exhibition Setting the Stage is on show at Montreal's galerie antoine ertaskiran until the 10th of October.

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