NYCU | Eddie Martinez’s Risky Business

Eddie Martinez in his studio, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 2012. Production still from the "New York Close Up" film, "Eddie Martinez's Risky Business". © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Eddie Martinez in his studio, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 2012. Production still from the New York Close Up film, Eddie Martinez’s Risky Business. © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Why would an artist change his signature style after proven success?

Walking the graffiti-filled streets of his Greenpoint neighborhood and working in his nearby Williamsburg studio, Brooklyn-based artist Eddie Martinez discusses the motivation to shift his paintings from Pop-like figurations to pared down abstractions. An active graffiti artist in his teens and twenties, Martinez describes both the allure and difficulty of graffiti’s inherent riskiness, and reveals how his work now is an equally risky endeavor, artistically and professionally. A montage of Martinez’s previous paintings—brightly colored and unabashedly representational paintings of flowerpots and cartoonish characters—exemplifies the prodigious output that brought him commercial attention and success, but now represents a style he “feels wholly committed to abandoning.” Despite the expectations of his gallery and collectors, Martinez says, “It’s just impossible for me to keep making the same image I made six years ago.” He describes how he’s both excited and frightened to forge a fully abstract style, to paint without easy reliance on old imagery. Months afterwards the results of Martinez’s stylistic shift—near mural-sized canvases of primary colored forms set against open white backgrounds—are shown on exhibition at The Journal Gallery in Brooklyn. For Martinez, the change was a necessary leap of faith, one he hopes his followers will continue to support.

Eddie Martinez, "Matador #7 (Withdrawn)," detail, 2013. Installation view at The Journal Gallery, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2013. Production still from the "New York Close Up" film, "Eddie Martinez's Risky Business". © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Eddie Martinez, Matador #7 (Withdrawn), detail, 2013. Installation view at The Journal Gallery, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2013. Production still from the New York Close Up film, Eddie Martinez’s Risky Business. © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Eddie Martinez (b. 1977, Groton, Connecticut) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Watch the full film, Eddie Martinez’s Risky Business, below.

CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: John Marton, Nick Ravich, & Rafael Moreno Salazar. Sound: Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Design & Graphics: Stephanie Andreou, Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Eddie Martinez. Thanks: Franny, Sara Hantman, Emilia Olsen, The Journal Gallery. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Toby Devan Lewis; Lambent Foundation; the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.; and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. Additional support provided by The 1896 Studios & Stages, and by individual contributors.

Contributor
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at Art21, overseeing the organization's overall digital, Web, and social media presences. He edits and contributes to Art21's "Art 2.1" column.

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