THE SCULPTED IMAGE: LANDSCAPES 2019-2021
MARTIN ALEXANDER SPRATLEN ETEM
June 25–October 16, 2021
Friday, June 25, 5–7pm
(June 2021) form & concept is proud to introduce the work of multidisciplinary artist Martin Alexander Spratlen Etem for his inaugural showing at form & concept. The California-based artist’s solo show The Sculpted Image: Landscapes 2019–2021 opens June 25, and features never-before-seen sculpture and photography work made in 2021 alongside selections from the artist’s 2019 and 2020 series juxtaposing contemporary imagery beside classical Roman statues, landmarks and architecture. Through Etem’s work, which pulls imagery from public and communal spaces, and the artist’s personal travels, gallery visitors find themselves caught between the known and unknown. An Opening Reception with the artist will be held on Friday, June 25, 5–7pm.
Employing inkjet prints, cut mirror, resin and sculpted California redwood, Martin Etem shapes conceptual vessels for intertwined personal, political and natural experiences. His compositions often feature glimpses of rippling or rushing water, which become visual analogues for adjacent imagery depicting great societal flux. Using mirrored elements, Etem casts viewers into the action and forces them to consider their own connections to sociopolitical and ecological change.
“In Martin’s work, viewers come face-to-face with themselves,” says Curator Marissa Fassano. “He’s using striking imagery and mirrors to lend his eyes to us, reframing our perspectives in challenging and enlightening ways.” In Etem’s work titled From prejudice rules, to King’s jewel’s, our nation’s reflecting pool, turned profound swimming pools, to good kids m.a.a.d. cities, an embedded mirror sandwiches the viewer’s reflection between iconic imagery of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and a jubilant scene of Black community in a public swimming pool. The former image is devoid of people, and its Neoclassical severity clashes with the depiction of exuberant Black celebration beside it. “Looking at a composite image like this, we inevitably ask which space is really ‘for the people,’” says Fassano. “Martin presents open questions rather than easy answers. He’s joining the named and the unknown.”
Etem writes of his work, “We have the right to be undefined, to not choose, and to stay open to everything. This is the beauty of superposition—it is dynamic. My work embodies the multidimensional. It embraces the infinite narratives around race, ethnicity, race relations throughout history, gender, art history and the evolution of those ideas. And it is our right to engage with these themes as we choose.”
While Etem’s early 2019 and 2020 work pointedly draws from visuals evoking the Black Lives Matter and #metoo movements, as well as police brutality and the 24/7 news cycle, the artist’s later work, featuring real and digitally-manipulated landscapes and utopias from the artist’s travels, signals a period of reflection and introspection. Here, Etem places our fascinated eyes between landscapes awash in setting sun, dawn and twlight, referencing the spectrum of our individual and shared experiences throughout the turmoil of the past few years. “The series became an essential and abstracted way for me to explore and reflect upon time and what can happen in a given day,” says Etem. “Our days can have prosperity and tragedy. They can be hopeful and optimistic and we can experience pessimism and despair. They can be beautiful, ugly, joyous, sorrowful, fortunate, unfortunate, exhilarating, boring, eventful and so much more.”
Martin Alexander Spratlen Etem, born 1987 in Long Beach, CA, is a multidisciplinary artist using drawing, painting, sculpture and photography to survey modern society’s ideologies and sociology. Influenced by past experiences and imagination, Etem recontextualizes art history to create a visual language that embodies both a world view and personal narrative by calling attention to race, gender, hierarchies, value, and beauty. The work’s structure invites the viewer into different portals or realms of experience and narrative where images collide and communicate ideas of aesthetic and conceptual complexity. Etem received his MFA from University of East London in 2013. Since then, his work has been shown in several solo and group shows in galleries and arts centers across the US, including Long Beach Museum of Art, CA; LGBT Center and Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, CA; Outono Projects, Harlem, NY; Irvine Fine Arts Center, CA; and Art in Embassies, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In 2020, Etem was awarded the Long Beach Art Council Working Artist Fellowship and was a Black Artist Fund Branch Grant Awardee.
For press or image inquiries, please contact Marissa Fassano at email@example.com or call (505) 780-8312 x1002.