The title, Colours on the Beach, is connected to Martens’ large-scale commission of the same name in Le Havre, France (2017), in which he devised a coded rhythm with which to paint the traditionally white beach cabins that form a distinct part of the Le Havre’s cityscape. One of those cabins is installed in the gallery for this exhibition. The artist writes: “For the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the city, I proposed the plan to give [the cabins] a colorful expression: stripes of 10 different colors and of 6 different width will be painted on the visible faces of the cabins. I see it as a kind of choreography, a composition of the whole panorama, with all the cabins. A unity through diversity.” The complex algorithmic composition, based on the city’s founding decree as written by King Francis I, was developed with researchers of the University of Le Havre’s Computing Laboratory of Information Processing and Systems (LITIS) and members of La Faironnerie, a lab which works on the link between science and art.
Following the thread of motion so inherent in Martens’ work, Icon Viewer (2015) is a live-projected image, capturing the exterior scene of the cabin and projecting it simultaneously, the moving image made up of a multitude of vector-based spinning icons, zooming in seemingly infinitely, through a device operated by the viewer.
Martens’ monoprint works are a long-standing occupation in his practice. Printed with a bookbinders’ press, using ink on found objects with discarded index or catalogue cards, these are an almost daily experiment with colour and form, producing unique compositions that bear Martens’ unmistakable visual energy, and continuous motion. These are combined with several of his Clockworks (2005-ongoing), kinetic works that Martens has developed by modifying existing clock mechanisms to power three abstract discs.
In the office is Martens’ work Guest Book (2004), where visitors are invited to take an instant symbol-generated self-portrait that can be printed and taken home.
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