Arjan Martins (1960, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil) constructs past and present scenes steeped in personal and collective memories. His years of artistic training — during which he simultaneously worked several jobs — were characterized by experimentation with diverse artistic languages, from installation to performance. Drawing, however, became his first recurrent tool, which he used to assemble and disassemble elements from a manual on human anatomy — first on paper and later on walls. The lines of Martins' drawings became associated with the lettering of words and symbols, and the reference to the inside of the body shifted to cartographic studies, mapping atavistic memories. He has been developing his relationship with the pictorial practice ever since.
Based in the Santa Teresa neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, the artist brings contemporary and historical characters to his canvases, often positioning them in front of representations of the Atlantic Ocean. In the alternation of more and less detailed areas, to the point of leaving the texture of the canvas apparent, his cartographies and maritime images invariably recall the crossings back and forth that began with the perverse formation of the "Atlantic Triangle" and that fed the slave economy between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Arjan Martins thus puts the spotlight on the black diaspora of which he himself is a part, not only for his origins but for the opportunities he finds to travel to the different continents that make up that history. In his paintings, the artist recombines symbols found in different latitudes and longitudes — such as the silhouette of a mountain in Guanabara Bay, the structure of a 19th-century British ship, and the enigmatic face of a girl photographed in New York in the 1960s —often existing together in the same pictorial space.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).