Interview: Reverse-Glass Painter Christopher Martin

With galleries in Aspen, Dallas and New York, an artist who has mastered organic expressionism

From Art Aspen to Scope Miami Beach and Art Southampton, artist Christopher Martin has showcased his large-scale reverse-glass paintings to great reception. The founder of Christopher Martin Gallery—with locations in Aspen, Dallas and New York—he has been exhibiting his work since a Dallas debut back in 1995. The self-taught artist employs gravity to pull layer upon layer of water and paint downward. The resulting visuals balance strict, painterly lines with chaos and entropy, all to form what Martin refers to as “organic expressionism.” Each work’s layers (oftentimes up to 30) reference nature and the nature of time—as seen in petrified wood or veins in a slab of marble.

Courtesy of Christopher Martin Gallery

Martin’s process and style go hand-in-hand. “I am moving water and paint, pigment, on a clear non-permeable surface,” he explains to us. “You are looking at patterns of water. They’re the conduit that allows the paint to set. Once I position it the way I feel it’s going to work, I use large 2,000-watt quartz infrared lamps that suck the water out quickly. What’s left behind is the remnant—the residue of the pattern.”

Courtesy of Andrew Werner

Water allows for an organic fractal component. It manipulates Martin’s distinct color choices which vary between sharp contrast and a defined color experience. “I like to exist in a family of color, and work through variations,” he adds. “There might be 25 different shades of blue, but from afar it feels uniform. Rarely do I do a lot of jumping around.” From there, Martin modifies, intensifies and highlights each piece.

Courtesy of Andrew Werner

“Chaos will be inherent in the process,” he continues, “Without using machinery or exact calculations, I attempt to control it. If I get in the neighborhood of my vision, then I get a variability that allows it to feel organic. Sometimes it spins out of control and I have to start over. But sometimes it’s the things that feel a little out of control that make the painting feel alive.” His works undeniably channel life—each the offspring of an artist in love with the influence of the elements.

Hero image courtesy of Christopher Martin Gallery