I started making drawings of ordinary objects, one at a time, in 1977. I drew them on A4 paper with a pencil and then traced them in very fine tape onto acetate to remove all trace of their being handmade. I had no idea where they might take me, and it would have been inconceivable to me that they would remain at the center of my work to this day. I intended them to be “styleless,” but over the years the way they look has come to be recognizable as my style.
Gagosian Hong Kong is pleased to present recent paintings by Michael Craig-Martin.
A principal figure of British conceptual art, Craig-Martin probes the relationship between objects and images, harnessing the human capacity to imagine absent forms through symbols and pictures. The perceptual tension between object, representation, and language has been his central concern over the past four decades. During the late 1970s, he began to transcribe everyday items into “pictorial readymades” directly onto gallery walls, and since the 1990s onto canvas in conjunction with vivid artificial color. His drawings, paintings, and monumental steel sculptures are representations in the truest sense of the word, conveying familiar subjects as concisely as possible and thereby inviting each viewer’s personal response.
Recent paintings on aluminum panels, some larger than two meters square, depict a new range of contemporary objects—a high-heeled shoe, a disposable coffee cup, an energy-saving lightbulb—in an electric palette tinged with neon blues, greens, and pinks. The simplest object can become iconic. The amplified archetypes may lure the viewer into associations with his or her own corkscrew, headphones, or prescription pills. Continuing to resist any elaboration of form, Craig-Martin allows himself absolute chromatic freedom, casting the line-drawn silhouettes—which he draws digitally, then executes using paint rollers and thin tape—against vivid backgrounds of turquoise or purple. The selected colors disrupt the usual identity of the explicitly described objects, as in a subtly self-referential painting of a standard paint roller suspended in a magenta picture plane. “The drawings are as precisely like the thing as I can make them, and the color is as artificial as I can make it,” Craig-Martin has said. In this way, he uses color to “subvert” the image.
Influenced by the color theory of Josef Albers—and realizing a congruous visual ambiguity in his specific approach to representation—Craig-Martin continuously explores how color affects perception. A series of black canvases, exhibited first at Kunstmuseen Krefeld in 2013, isolates his enduring subjects. Untitled (briefcase) (2012) depicts a red briefcase with green catches, complimentary colors that push the quotidian image into the foreground. Conversely, in Untitled (soupcan profile) (2013)—an oblique homage to Andy Warhol—the lower half of the can matches the black background, causing it to disappear; the remaining image is a reductivist trace of a soup can comprising a blue square, a green circle, and four orange and blue lines. Expanding upon his signature generalization of the object, Craig-Martin negates it to bring color and form into perfect balance.
Michael Craig-Martin was born in Dublin in 1941, and studied at Yale University, New Haven from 1963 to 1966. He was a professor at Goldsmith’s College, London from 1974–88 and 1994–2000, where he was a significant influence on emerging British artists. Craig-Martin’s work is represented in public collections worldwide, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Permanent large-scale installations are on view at Laban Dance Center, London and European Investment Bank, Luxembourg. Solo museum exhibitions include “Always Now,” Kunstverein Hannover (1998); IVAM, Valencia (2000); “Living,” Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Portugal (2001); “Signs of Life,” Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2006); and “Less Is Still More,” Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld, Germany (2013). Retrospectives include Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1989); and Irish Museum of Modern Art (2006–07). Craig-Martin lives and works in London.
“Michael Craig-Martin at Chatsworth,” an installation of large-scale steel sculpture, is on view at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire through June 29, 2014. A major exhibition of recent work by Craig-Martin will be presented at Himalayas Museum, Shanghai from January 30–March 30, 2015.
克雷格-馬丁受約瑟夫‧亞伯斯（Josef Albers）的色彩理論影響，並自覺其表現手法帶有相同的視覺歧義性，於是不斷探索色彩對感知的影響。他於2013年首次在德國克雷費爾德藝術博物館展出的黑色油畫系列，突顯了其常用的題材。《無題(公事包)》(Untitled (briefcase))(2012年)描繪附有綠色扣鎖的紅色公事包，透過互補色突出日常物品。相反，在間接向安迪‧沃荷致敬的《無題(罐頭湯平面像)》(Untitled (soupcan profile))(2013年)中，罐頭的下半部融入黑色的背景中；畫面的其餘部份則運用簡化主義手法，以一個藍色正方形、綠色圓形和四條橙色與藍色線組成一個罐頭湯。克雷格-馬丁進一步演繹他標誌性的物品概括化手法，透過除去物品的特點，達致顏色與形態的完美平衡。
米高‧克雷格-馬丁1941年生於都柏林，1963至1966年入讀耶魯大學。他在1974至1988年及1994年至2000年期間在倫敦金史密斯學院任教，對新晉英國藝術家影響深遠。其作品獲世界各地多間公共博物館收藏，包括紐約現代藝術博物館、倫敦泰特美術館、巴黎龐畢度中心及馬德里索菲亞王后國家藝術中心博物館，其大型藝術裝置亦常設於倫敦拉邦舞蹈中心(Laban Dance Center)及盧森堡歐洲投資銀行。克雷格-馬丁曾於博物館舉辦的個展包括「Always Now」（漢諾威藝術協會，1998年；瓦倫西亞現代藝術館，2000年）、「Living」（葡萄牙辛特拉現代藝術博物館，2001年）、「Signs of Life」（奧地利布雷根茨美術館，2006年）及「Less Is Still More」（德國克雷費爾德藝術博物館愛思特館，2013年），並曾於倫敦Whitechapel Art Gallery（1989年）及愛爾蘭現代藝術博物館舉辦回顧展（2006至2007年）。克雷格-馬丁現於倫敦定居及工作。
大型鋼雕塑裝置《Michael Craig-Martin at Chatsworth》現於英國達比郡查茲沃斯莊園（Chatsworth House）展出，展期至2014年6月29日。展出克雷格-馬丁近作的大型展覽將於2015年1月30日至3月30日期間於上海喜瑪拉雅美術館展出。