When Javier Martin won Spain’s national award, Caja Madrid, at the ripe age of nine, it was the beginning of a burgeoning career. His signature portraiture and provocative subjects have been exhibited around the world, from Miami to Marbella to Shanghai. We catch up with the artist in Manhattan for his latest solo exhibition of Blindness - The Appropriation of Beauty, curated by Robert C. Morgan.
By: Kevin Daniel Dwyer
Javier Martin (Spain, 1985) is a multidisciplinary artist who bases his creative exploration on the careful observation of his surroundings, detecting semiotic relationships that might otherwise pass by unnoticed to a viewer. With this approach, the artist constructs situations that invite reflection on impending matters in today’s world.
Raised in Spain, Martin began painting in oil colors at the tender age of seven and had his first exhibition at the age of eight; however, he never allowed himself to be influenced by formal artistic training. Instead, he relied on his experiences, which allowed him to explore the possibilities of various materials and tools that he incorporates in his work today. Traveling, living and working in Europe, South Korea, Hong Kong and the United States honed his observation skills, allowing him to learn from people and daily situations far removed from his background. During the summer of 2012, Martin participated in his first exhibition in Asia in Shanghai’s M50 Art District. By 2014 he was officially represented by Matthew Liu Fine Arts Gallery in Shanghai.
In addition to his international exhibitions around the world, he shares his knowledge and personal experience regarding the realm of art culture through speaking engagements. In 2015 he conversed with a group of students during a conference at Alboran College in Marbella, Spain, discussing the impact that art had on his life. 2017 opened with Martin presenting Lies and Light, a performance piece, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, followed by a discussion about the importance of breaking down the lights that veer us away from the path of truth. Most recently, he was a panelist in the New Ways of Seeing Conference, presented by the Art World Forum at the Liang Yi Museum, Hong Kong.
For over a decade, Martin has been developing one of his most iconic collections, Blindness. Appropriating the language of advertising, he deconstructs the perceived perfection to create contrast, exploring the warped concepts of beauty and value.The eyes, classically associated with the reflection of human emotions, are always concealed, whether behind a vibrant stroke of paint or a glowing neon light. With painting and collage, he reproduces images of seemingly perfect models, symbols of a standard of beauty and lifestyle that most people long to enjoy. Inspired by the juxtaposition between the grit of city surroundings and the glossy ads that line them, Martin deconstructs this perceived perfection to create a contrast between technology, collage and painting.
In the spring of 2016, Martin presented Lies and Light at his solo show during Art Basel Hong Kong week. This performance also represented the latest evolution of the artist’s Blindness concept. In this case, the artist manifests himself as the protagonist, literally shattering society’s barriers to convey the struggle against conformity as well as the fight for truth and freedom. This raw and rebellious performance finds Martin completely vulnerable in an intense spiritual journey to overcome his past.
Mass media, consumption and the systems created by society occupy space with vapid dis-tractions, dimming the pure light burning inside each of us which fuels our passions and lives. The neon in the Blindness Light collection references the bright, artificial lights of consumer culture built to distract from what is truly meaningful. The goal is not the light but discovering what is behind the light–what lives in each of us.
In today’s society, perception is everything. Martin’s work gives form to the inarticulate feelings of self-worth. Known for his thought-provoking boldness, he creates art that rattles nerves, stirs the senses and invites the viewer to not only question societal views of worth, but their perspectives as well.
Blindness Alma - A Room Without Walls, is an installation that encapsulates Javier Martin’s Blindness concept into a transcendental physical space, composed of mirrors and light that is simultaneously ethereal and unsettling.
This room breaks through architectural barriers. As the concepts of both light and infinity in their purest forms are nearly impossible to comprehend, these mirrored walls create a limited depiction of infinity.
With his latest extension of his Blindness concept, he invites the viewer to step into a room where he has conceptually removed the walls, replacing them with unlimited light and space. This piece tests the concept of perception and inspires self-reflection by eliminating the barriers society imposes, filling our minds with banal and insignificant thoughts, keeping us trapped and preventing us from realizing the potential that exists beyond.
The transcendental problem of light is that it is merely a reflection. So the ultimate goal for the viewer is not to focus on the glowing neon light, but search within for something more profound beyond those lights. To look inside and outside of oneself to question societal views of self-worth as well as one’s own perspectives. G
To learn more about BLINDNESS
and Javier Martin’s work, visit