Alexey Martins

Polar explorers


The “Polar explorers” series is chronologically the biggest project of Alexey Martins. It was implemented in various forms: performance, installation, objects, graphics, paintings and mural. “Polar explorers” has been going as a pivot through the whole artistic practise with the various themes, forms and ideas which have been used by artist during last 7 years. Over time, this cross-discursivity became the main feature of the series. It represents the artwork as an accumulation of images. The one artwork could have a lot of connotations, the one visual method reveals diametrically opposite themes in different contexts.

The “Notes of a polar explorer” performance was shown in 2012 at the exhibition called “Rejected reality”. A printer with the remote access was placed in the exhibition space. The sheets of graphics received via the Internet from Krasnoyarsk were being printed. They were being made by the artist in real time. It was the first work with the participation of “Polar explorers” involving two important meaningful directions. First of all, this is a theme of national identity. White monochrome landscapes don’t represent the real area but it is Martin’s attempt to create the “mental map” of Siberian citizen. Spatial affect that is typical for perception of this area appears due to the disproportionally small image. The second direction appeals to the concept of “art time” which is focused on the process of production and consumption of art. The printer was placed at the altitude. The sheets of graphics were falling down slowly and formed a smoothly growing snowdrift with “art snow”.

From 2013 to 2015 the main theme of the series was time-based art. In this period the graphics creation became almost a ritual action for artist. These works were not exhibited anywhere, and even were not positioned as independent artworks. This persistent and aimless work made an image of art product as a fuel. It provided the starting point for a new stage in the evolution of the project.

In 2015, the “Polar explorers” series was included in the “Mental Firewood” project. Graphic images were applied to the ends of birch trees. The recognizable visual motifs form the metaphysical image of Siberia. They combined with wood which is another element of the symbolic system of this area. It became a substrate of Siberian art for Alexey Martins.

Since 2016, the series having moved to canvas, the traditional medium of art, becomes an independent artwork. Paintings made from 2016 to 2018, opened another meaningful perspective of “Polar Explorers”. It was ecology. The collision of different scales of the image reveals the dynamic tension between the person and the environment. This is a reference to the problems of new ecological theories, such as dark ecology.

In the last expression, the “Polar explorers” series becomes a fresco. The picture frame disappears in order to enhance the image of the hyperactivity of the environment. Laconic graphic compositions are applied directly to the wall. That is why it becomes possible to dissolve already small images in the snowy whiteness of the background.

About artist

Alexey Martins (b. 1989, Krasnoyarsk) — artist, curator.

The artist graduated from the Faculty of Painting of the Krasnoyarsk Art School and the Free Workshops Contemporary Art School of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

In his practice, Martins engages with a distinctive set of materials, techniques and subjects that reveal the dynamic tension between civilization and nature. Out of old, reclaimed wooden planks, which still preserve the memory of wild forest and the warmth of a dwelling, he assembles striking and enigmatic zoomorphic sculptures. Using acrylic and graphite pencil, he creates concise monochromatic compositions, wherein the traces of anthropocentric landscape dissolve into the “snowy” whiteness of unfilled background.
Martins considers all of his works in different media, including the ones produced for public spaces, as inherently connected parts of a single social and aesthetic project – a meditation on ecologic cataclysms, the ambivalent status of a human being in the system of organic life, regional identity and the unifying potential of art.

In 2015, Martins got onto the short list of the Kandinsky Prize in the nomination “Young Artist. Project of the Year” for his joint performance with the artist Igor Lazarev “How to Talk about Art to the Siberian City”. In 2017, Alexey Martins became the winner of the annual Ruinart Art Patronat Award Contest in the field of contemporary art. Martins’ portfolio includes over 20 group exhibitions and five solo shows. He has participated in the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Young Art, the Main Project of the 7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art, and the 12th International Festival of Landscape Objects.

His works are found at the State Tretyakov Gallery, Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre and in private collections.

Artist lives and works in Moscow.