In his project titled “Sunspots”, Alexey Martins directs his attention to the plots of the confrontation between the chthonic and the solar which could be traced in German-Scandinavian and Evenki myths, and eschatological motifs of which were interpreted by the artist through the prism of the modern environmental and political agenda.
The myth about the wolves named Skoll and Hati, which are constantly trying to destroy the sun and the moon, had become the basis of the project, and represents the confrontation between dark and light forces.
The artist projects this mythological plot on today’s world — from the perspective of a modern energy conflict, the image of wolves is sensed as an expression of the dark earth energy materialized through a black stream of oil, tirelessly striving for self-destruction, because the disappearance of the sun will lead to the death of all that is vital. The attempt to destroy the inexhaustible flow of the solar resource is opposed to the waste of limited terrestrial resources.
From the point of view of the “solar economy” by Georges Bataille, such a useless waste is quite natural. He sees the initial basis of economic relations not in a shortage, as it is commonly believed, but in excess. According to Bataille, the sun gives us the energy of infinite abundance, which provokes an irrational destructive waste in the form of warriors, sacrifices and other phenomena. In the economy, abundance exists initially, while the need must be produced specifically with the help of various marketing and ideological tools.
Moreover, it is actually abundance and overproduction that provokes the emergence of environmental issues. For the artist, the opposition to light, excessive intensity and a thirst for self-destruction make up the DNA of the modern world.
The installation, combined from various elements in the space of the gallery, as in the alchemist’s room, resembles a cult room for rituals. Oil, a living tree, solar panels, sculptures of wolves, fluorescent lamps become part of a narrative about the endless confrontation between light and darkness.
A series of zoomorphic sculptures “Ghosts” is a reference to current ideas about the ecology of things, casting doubt on the concept of the body as a self-sufficient form. Blurring and destroying the boundaries of the sculptural form, the artist creates the image of a new physicality, which is involved into a dynamic interchange with the outside world. The same applies to the graphic series “Sunspots”, created on solar panels — pulsating substance breaks beyond the bounds of the whole. The method of dynamically expressive painting becomes a metaphor for the transparent subtlety of the boundaries between the supposedly different spheres of modern life: politics and art, ecology and religion, industry and magic. Everything is interconnected — all objects, bodies and processes imply forces that influence each other. This project performatively shows what impact these connections have on everything, including artistic strategies.
Alexey Martins — artist and curator. Born in Krasnoyarsk in 1989. Lives and works in Moscow.
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 held at the State Tretyakov Gallery, Krasnoyarsk Museum Centre and in private collections.