Galerie Maria Lund

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charcoal on paper and oil on canvas
- 2016

Surreal delirium, everyday life revisited… Peter Martensen paints people in familiar scenes: men in white overcoats with their backs to the world, wandering, looking bewildered, lost in their reflection. Yet, these seemingly ordinary situations have been decontextualized. Thus, men wander in the countryside, in an undefined, unrecognizable space, like poor mad men in an asylum garden. As a result, images are enigmatic, absurd, almost comical; the unsettled spectator observes and lives the situations, unable to access his usual panel of references.

Over the past few years, the artist has been developing the world of “specialists” and “experts” – people who have chosen to explore a very small field and whose work is almost impenetrable to the rest of us. Martensen deploys humor and mild irony, a gentle yet fine observation of humanity as well as a barely dissimulated criticism of our times. However, any attempt to determine the subject matter and themes in Martensen’s work has its limits. His propositions are open to multiple interpretations… Additionally, the figurative components in his paintings and drawings are not only chosen for their narrative load, but also for their visual and plastic potential. Thus, Martensen’s works are the result of a formal game too. This dimension is fundamental in understanding and interpreting his work which lies between narrative discourse and a purely plastic approach.