Fuelled by comments regarding the similarity between his paintings and photographs, English artist Tom Martin rebels against the photographic image by playing with scale and perspective. Although photography is used as a tool, Martin does not imitate a false reality like that seen in a reproduced image.
Martin's subject matter is varied, from female nudes to larger than life chrome plated pieces of steel. He also holds a strong interest in health and wellbeing as seen in paintings of health foods contrasted against tempting arrangements of sweets. Martin finds beauty within these often overlooked items by adding intricate reflections and abstracted bands of colour, enabling the viewer to examine more than they would normally care to do.
His body of work is representative of a more considered version of reality, one where the reproduced image is perceived to be real but cannot exist in photography. For instance, Martin positions vulnerable nude figures wrapped in large-scale money or with oversized sweet wrappers, a scenario that could never happen yet seems so real in paint.
Martin's use of CMYK dot patterns with the precision obtainable through modern technology enables an exactitude whilst generating a diverse way of seeing a painting. The artist continues to explore and employ optical devices, such as photo-stitching and airbrush on aluminium, and is now producing still life paintings of panoramic scenes.
Tom Martin is unique in his choice of subject matter and his approach to rendering it in paint. He makes no bones about being photographic in his approach and depending on photographs for his raw material. But in practice his work is hyper-photographic; to coin a phrase: it carries photographic representation further than a mere camera could ever do.
Many of the paintings are panoramic, giving the impression that we are seeing not only what is immediately in camera range, but also around corners and exploring depths which would be beyond the capabilities of any one camera to reach. Martin makes clear that his paintings are devised with the aid of many photographs, welded together and re-imagined with considerable technical virtuosity and a constructive mastery of perspective remarkable in one so young.
This approach brings Martin closer to the early Pre-Raphaelite practice than most other hyperrealist artists. Though his subject matter - the high tech machine - could hardly be more remote in feeling from the leaves and flowers that preoccupied the Pre-Raphaelite painters, the ultimate hallucinatory effect of seeing more than the human eye - or now, than any camera lens - could ever see at one go, is exactly the same.
- John Russell Taylor , extract from Exactitude: Hyperrealist Art Today
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