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Roberts & Tilton presents Daniel Joseph Martinez

  |   2012

Daniel Joseph Martinez

Open Friday and Saturday through art weekend LA.

Show Runs Through: September 8th – October 20th, 2012

Roberts & Tilton is pleased to announce Daniel Joseph Martinez’ first solo exhibition with the gallery and his first gallery exhibition in Los Angeles in 10 years. The French writer and philosopher Paul Virilio was once famously quoted as saying, “War was my university. Everything has proceeded from there,” meaning that all legitimate thoughts or ideas are either born from, or somehow intercepted by chaos, and that the impulse toward destruction is as much, if not more, a part of the creative process as is affection or love. Similarly, Martinez derives meaning from the living world in much the same manner, codifying the often disquieting visual lexicon by which we map out our lives, often turning those culturally determined roadmaps completely upside down. Rather than ascribe meaning to an image or idea, Martinez utilizes the physical body as its own sociological testing ground, at once mutated, mutilated and broken. However, these mutations are not harbingers of a darker more sinister future, but visual amplifications of human responsibility in understanding what might be possible once we move beyond our own biology. The social future possesses its own viable “body” that transcends its physicality just as Martinez’ photographs of hunchbacks propose a strange asymmetry and ultimately transform beyond the “monstrous” pushing deeper still into the social fabric of everyday modern culture.

Martinez has long been an avatar of visual culture, and his newest body of work conflates a multiplicity of complex ideas including biogenetics, class warfare, industrialization, the mechanization of modern culture, political posturing, violence, and the nature of human language. Yet at the core of this intensely realized project, as with all his work to date, is a commitment to represent the truth, not in the utopian, Carlyleian sense of reason, but as a fractured and wounded thing to bear. Thus, in works like A story for tomorrow in 4 chapters, Dostoevsky loved the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Muhammad Ali and Dandelions, Lick my hunch! Martinez postulates an alarming visual wherein his body is rendered as deliberately lumbering and unwieldy. These photographs present the artist as defamer and redeemer, the one who creates the image and the one who is afflicted by the creation. Sporting an oversized mask that resembles a bizarrely sadistic political leader, Papal miter, and prosthetic hunchback, Martinez again aligns the damaged body against a more sinister, broader cultural backdrop. How is beauty determined and by whom?

Other works like the show’s central immense-scale sculpture of the Statue of Liberty, Who Killed Liberty, can you hear that, it’s the sound of inevitability, the sound of your death, impaled like some Kubrikian silo gone astray into the gallery wall, further expands the idea of the physical body. In this case the inanimate body of a statue acts as a receptacle for human grief and a commodity to be acted upon, disavowed, and ultimately resuscitated.

Martinez also continues to subvert and complicate language with a series of neon signs strategically placed at the entrance to the gallery. By combining words that reference the body i.e. oxygen, with words that specifically reference a specific strata of society, i.e. bail bonds, Martinez implies a complicity between how we construct the human body versus how we stratify our culture.

Recent exhibitions include Print/Out at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; I want to go to Detroit; Cheerleaders CHEER, LAXART, Los Angeles, a solo exhibition in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time; Divine Violence Installation, Site Santa Fe Biennial, Santa Fe; and A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love; or, Where You Goin’ with That Gun in Your Hand: Bobby Seale And Huey Newton Discuss the Relationships between Expressionism and Social Reality Present in Hitler’s Paintings, Istanbul Biennial, Turkey. Martinez was included in the Aperto exhibition at the 1993 Venice Biennale and two Whitney Biennials in 2008 and 1993 where the artist’s Museum Tags: Second Movement (Overture); or Overture con Claque (Overture with Hired Audience Members) stated I Can’t/Imagine/Ever Wanting/To Be/White, which were subsequently featured on the cover of Artforum magazine on two separate occasions; once as the cover for the 1993 Whitney Biennial edition and once as the cover for Best of the 90s December 1999 edition. Martinez’ work has been the subject of four monographs to date, including the monumental retrospective monograph published by Hatje Cantz in 2009. His work can be found in numerous public collections both in the United States and abroad including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, FL; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and the Linda Pace Foundation, San Antonio, TX. Martinez currently lives and works in Los Angeles where he is Professor of Theory, Practice, and Mediation of Contemporary Art at the University of California, Irvine; he teaches in the Graduate Studies Program and the New Genres Department.

Limited Edition Sculpture
A Little Liberty, a limited edition sculpture published by Roberts & Tilton and fabricated at Ceramica Suro, Guadalajara, Mexico will be released in conjunction with the exhibition.

Roberts & Tilton
5801 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232
(323) 549-0223
Tuesday – Saturday: 11am to 6pm
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