Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Martyn Thompson: Thinker, Photographer, Artist

Martyn Thompson is a forward thinking artist whose work includes photography, acrylic sculpture, documentary work, and music.  He has been involved in a number of exhibitions showcasing his extraordinary artwork.  Not to mention that he also curates art shows.  Too, he has a job teaching English in South Korea.  And he and his wife have recently had a beautiful son.  I think somewhere in his schedule he has time to breath, but I don't know when!

As is true with many artists and photographers, the work is about light; however, Martyn uses light in a way that is so unlike how others use it.

The power of a particular piece of art is very important to Martyn.  The art critic James Elkins reports here that the time a patron views a piece of art in a museum or gallery is measured in seconds.  His aim is to create a piece that has a strong impact when viewed for the first time.  Drawing a person in and capturing the mind of the viewer is key.

As any artist does, Martyn appreciates the time a viewer spends to get up close to his art to look around at all sides in order to figure out and understand the piece.  I think a reader will note how important it is to hang a piece of art at the correct height so as to assist the impact of the piece.

I asked Martyn what motivates him, and his answer is worth quoting and remembering:

"My motivation is trying to push what I have already done until it provides me with a more difficult question.  An artist should always question one's self, and evaluate where the work is going and in which direction one wishes to pursue.  The questions get more complex, as are the possible solutions, but if they remain simple, you may as well do a paint-by-numbers."

To him, a number of Futurist artists, particularly Giacomo Balla and Carlo Carra, played a large role in his thinking.  To the point, striving to destroy the art of the past by contriving new and vastly different perceptions of art.

When Martyn was in school, the Korean artist Bak Nam June had a very big influence on him.  This influence can been seen with Martyn's use of technology in his art.

I first became acquainted with his work when I first viewed his creative and beautiful photography on Facebook.  Little did I understand how these photographs were presented in the real world. 

Martyn's own words are best used to explain his process:

"Initially, I will take a panoramic view of the surrounding area, with a digital camera, working my way around and down in concentric circles, capturing the whole of the environment.  When these images are arranged on a computer, as many as two hundred separate images may be used to construct the final piece.

These are then further broken in to layers of depth, with the furthest items displayed only in the back image, working up to the foreground.  Each layer is then printed on a separate piece acrylic paneling, and these are attached to an LED light box to illuminate the image from the back." 

In my opinion, this is an imaginative and creative process.  This process is also applied to his work with models.  The artist and model Jung Min is the subject of the piece immediately below.

It is a process that requires patience and an eye for detail.  Quality work and quality art cannot be rushed else it will look shoddy and amateurish.  Martyn's father is a model railway enthusiast who takes the time to build just about everything from scratch.  He even builds and solders the electronics necessary to operate the model railway.  I have a feeling that some of that work ethic and knowledge rubbed off onto Martyn.

The acrylic sculpture presented below is titled, Festival Guitar Man.  It illustrates well the detail and workmanship that is required for excellence.

Martyn is quick to praise his wife for the positive influence she has had on him.  She is a graphic designer, and her assistance in buying supplies and contacting factories to produce new or experimental techniques and media is invaluable.  It was she, he candidly admits, who persuaded him to present his best work.  For that reason, he will not substitute quality for cost.  What a wonderful team.

He shared this important and wise advice with me:

"Finding reliable people to work with is an excruciatingly time consuming necessity for any artist.  Whether it be a regular supplier of canvas, a printer or a framer, maintaining these relationships and finding out what good can come does not happen without some epic failures along the way.  Keep trying new places until you until you find what you are looking for."    

Not surprisingly, Martyn stepped back from art when his son was born early in 2012.  Spending time with his son has helped him to mature, and that is pushing his work in a different direction.  Because of the constraints of time and prioritizing what is most important to him, his documentary work is on hold for the time being.

Within the last year, he has been published in PHOTO (ARTVAS), Leaders Magazine, Elle a l'Seoul, Mokpo Today, and the Seoul Art Guide.

I mentioned that Martyn has been involved with music, too.  He played bass guitar for a band called Flying Maru that performed in a number of shows in Seoul.  Listen to some of the music here.

He organized and curated the Homo-Sapiens exhibition earlier this year at Gallery Golmok.  He will curate a show in December 2012 in Insadong at iGallery that will look at man's relationship with animals.

He recently concluded a group exhibit at the Jeonju Biennale.  Early in 2013 he will have his second solo exhibition in Mokpo.

His website can be accessed here.

No comments:

Post a Comment