By Ronni Sandroff | Feb. 2016 | Letagemagazine.com
Alternately glitzy, stark and enigmatic, the works in Javier Martin’s new show, “War, Consumption, And Other Human Hobbies,” at Valli Art Gallery in Wynwood until October 18, are designed to shake up our vision of the world.
The young Spanish artist uses a wide range of materials, from mirrors and neon to video, wire fencing, and wood sculpture. And, he’s not shy about driving his point home. “For me the social message is always the most important,” Javier Martin told L’Etage at the opening party on September 25th. “Some people thought my collection, Close My Eyes, was superficial, perhaps because I pictured beautiful women. The neon lights blindfolding their eyes refer to the use of neon to represent brand names and urge consumption. The message is that there’s too much focus on the superficial, and we forget what’s inside.”
That commodification of beauty theme is carried on in a piece called “Empty,” an issue of Vogue magazine in which the cover model’s shape has been hollowed out of each page. And a more direct comment on fashion is Martin’s series of guns and rifles made out of original Louis Vuitton fabric handbags.
In some of Martin’s work, the message seems a bit bald. “Great Opportunity at Wynwood 2015,” is a small plot of wood and soil. And the giant dollar bill with a mirror instead of George Washington’s face seems like a fun house piece.
Much more powerful are the photos of Martin’s performance in the streets of Spain, in which he is sitting on a sidewalk begging, body and head tightly covered in white jogging suit and a large mirror where his face should be. The mirror looks up to reflect the faces of those who bend over to give him alms. “It was fascinating to watch people look at themselves through this mirror,” Martin said.
At Valli, a large installation cordons off part of the room with a tall wire fence with two pieces of clothing – one stained with a little blood – hanging on top. It seems to represent oppression of many kinds and is unexpectedly moving.
More enigmatic is the gold brick that’s also a scrub brush, the piece the gallery chose (with an arm added) to promote the exhibit. There are many more surprises in this absorbing show.