This body of work represents Rowena Martinich’s passion for vivid and expressionistic mark making. In the tradition of Jackson Pollock, Martinich is an action painter. The process for Martinich’s action paintings is revealed in the featured video whereby the artist paints onto glass as though it were a canvas. We experience this video as though we ourselves were a blank canvas – layer upon layer of paint slowly builds up until the artist is no longer visible. We are not on the outside looking in, but rather, we are looking outward – from the perspective of the canvas.
The artist’s process as seen in this video – is careful and restrained at times. This is in stark contrast to the outcome; the canvases explode in unbridled energy – a bright, bold, tempest of colour shocks and demands our attention.
In fact, it is difficult to avoid Martinich’s work – each canvas shouts across the room with such strength and conviction; these works seize your attention whether you desire them to or not. One’s visual faculties are unequivocally dazzled. This is the artist’s ultimate hope – to arrest the viewer’s eye for long enough that for a moment, they might forget what they were doing, who they are – and become completely immersed and enmeshed in a world of enrapturing colour.
The physical process of application is evident in Martinich’s sweeping gestures. Using traditional paintbrushes alongside oversized calligraphy brushes and self-created painting tools as well as house-hold brooms, Martinich brandishes her repertoire of brush strokes in bold and vibrant colour combinations. The artist rejoices in bright fluorescent colour – we observe its nuances in every inch of the canvas surface.
By Claire Watson, Curator