In recent years, Martin Maloney has become an important figure in the British contemporary art scene by creating his highly distinctive coloured drawings, portraits, still-lifes or scenes of daily life from his immediate environment.
For his first exhibition at the Xippas Gallery in Athens, Martin Maloney presents a series of paintings of urban scenes in black and white. With this new series, the artist has imposed a new constraint on himself, choosing to place colour outside his representation.
If the colour is seemingly absent, the nuances of grey, black and white appear to us to be coloured. By putting aside a usually very prominent element in his work, Martin Maloney has reconsidered the other components of painting. This restriction reveals certain pictorial habits and encourages a reconsideration of elements that are regarded as essential in the creation of an “interesting” painting. It forces us to concentrate more on the draughtsmanship and the composition.
During the creation of these paintings Martin Maloney had a secret wish list of art historical references, made with modesty: “I wanted Tiepolo’s speed and economy to hold the drawing and painting together without drowning the drawing in painting. I wanted to have the daring in composition of Veronese and have his confident ease to let a dog creep in from the side and steal the drama of the main scene. I wanted to summon up the spirit of David Hockney from 1967 where in his hands a few careful but crooked lines make an abstract pattern that becomes a description of something real. I wanted to resist making a karaoke version of Cy Twombly’s line scribble and scrawl but try and understand how I could approach his elegant emptiness and brutality to find my own.”
Here Martin Maloney gives a particular place to everyday things. Ordinary, often uninteresting objects here have a dominant position. For Martin Maloney, constructing a painting is like working out a puzzle with space, raising questions such as where to place objects, the predominance of this or that subject, how to balance the ordinary and everyday with the extraordinary and how to depict both the beautiful and the ugly without either overwhelming or depressing the viewer. In creating these monochrome canvases the artist was more concerned with looking at objects within their own context than consulting art history books. In the observation of a street, its architecture, the town and its suburbs, Martin Maloney appreciates those moments of beauty that can occur in the ordinariness of an urban setting and it is this vision that he paints; the warmth of human spirit and the surprise of beauty in unexpected locations.
Martin Maloney was born in London in 1961. After his studies at St Martin’s School of Art and Design in London, the School of Visual Arts in New York and at Goldsmiths College of the University of London, he embarked on an artistic career, combining his painting with art journalism for magazines such as Artforum and Flash Art, as well as organizing exhibitions is his own gallery-apartment in London. His work is regularly exhibited in Europe; he has participated in such celebrated exhibitions as “Sensation” at the Royal Academy of Arts and ”New Neurotic Realism” and ”New Labour” both at the Saatchi Gallery. He exhibited at Anthony d’Offay in 2000, Xavier Hufkens in Brussels in 2004, Galerie Xippas in Paris in 2005, and was selected in 2002 for the John Moores Painting Prize presented at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. In London, he is represented by the Timothy Taylor Gallery.