Martin McGinn’s painting subjects are immediately recognizable – as for example, a landscape or an underpass – but the shift in colour prevents the onlooker to come up with a straight reading of the work. The image never settles in our eyes or mind, becoming instead a kind of perpetual motion machine for the senses. In his latest series, McGinn explores the complex relationship between contemporary painting and art history. With dynamic brushstrokes, he reproduces famous historical pictures, but divides the canvas in large areas of vibrant colour. Each zone becomes both an abstract monochrome and a focal point, inviting the viewer to consider individually specific parts of the original painting. If the colours of McGinn’s works can almost always be found in the historical paintings that inspired them, the new chromatic composition, as well as the change of scale, challenges the readability of the image and investigates the thin line between figuration and sheer abstraction.
These paintings also appear as a superimposition of two artistic tendencies; the original image emerges from a geometrical abstraction, strongly reminiscent of the ‘60s. McGinn applies to painting the Duchampian concept of the readymade. Familiar images are displayed, and in this case executed, in an unfamiliar manner, inviting the viewer to a fresher perspective on history.
Martin was born in 1955 and lives in London.