Review by Amrita Varma
December 17, 2013

Empty Envelops
George Martin
November 27, 2013-January 5, 2014
Palette Art Gallery, New Delhi


George Martin’s current body of work is a class apart. The works at Palette showcase a refinement of style and the ability to look at the core of human perspectives on duality of city life and the thin veil of glamour over the harsh realities of day to day living . The works are alive and each layer grows on you as you stand gazing at the works. The two installations are also interesting and bring the artist’s thoughts on aspects of life to the forefront. 

George has had a fascination for colour from his early days and he brings out his understanding of this aspect perfectly in his use of flat vibrant colour patches and lines which is what one sees when looking at the works up close. In the beginning, the patches and lines seem to add to the chaos. Slowly as one gazes, the movement of these lines and swatches moves one cerebrally. As one stands away from the canvas one can start seeing forms appear as if coming to life giving a larger perspective on not just the visual but also its conceptual context. 

Each work is titled to lead the viewer into the work but just enough to engage and relate their story with the artist’s vision. All works has a serene strength and are interesting in their perspective of urban life. 

While  ‘two sided nails’ shows this duality of living a life where in a cycle of consumption and production ‘ beyond a billion ballots ‘ seems to address the randomness and almost non chalant attitude one sees on the streets with people going about on their own business as if no one else exists around them and not understanding their own collective power. There is a feeling of getting lost in the crowd. 

‘Screaming the public sphere’ looks at the urban chaos and it’s disconnect to a functional life. The works are not loud in their comment but stand centered leaving the meaning for the viewer in their inherent strength of perspective that is open to questioning and reflection. 

‘The way of the knife’ seems to address stifled sharp voices that are present within the average city inhabitant and wants to express it but that sharp voice is stifled and one finds innate aggression in the bodies moving on the streets as if all is normal rearing to come out.  

Half open doors talks of the glossy polished glass of the shop windows where the smiling mannequins watch through that glass at the hawkers and common people outside . Some of those look back in suggesting an engagement of polarity of perspectives where the glass stands neutral of the false outlook and hypocritical attitudes of the great city. 

There is a reflective quality to the work that runs through the entire series. The viewer is drawn to ponder deep within himself and make meaning from these interesting threads of images, icons, contexts and visual movement through abstraction and form. 

It is interesting to see the intensity with which each work speaks of a psychological and political narrative of the people of any city we look at today. George has through his keen sense of observing the subtleties of nature of the urban individual, created a whirlwind of questions and opened out interesting perspectives for the viewer through each canvas and installation. 

The works are of the world yet is personal for the viewer. The engagement with this set of works is very intense and the reading of the works is a beautiful journey of questioning the work, the city and self where one is constantly deriving meaning layer by layer and relishes every moment of it. 

George Martin, The 2 sided nails, 48 x 48