"Hidden is a very simple and attractive set of pictures. One can engage with them only in terms of form and color, but the series came out of my thinking about the paradox of how to represent a specific issue, theme or idea without physically referencing it. The colored panels are sound barriers intended to muffle the noise of the traffic on the highways. This is all the photographs offer us at first glance. The irony is that these beautifully designed barriers had the effect of dividing the communities through which the roads passed in the south of Portugal. " —Edgar Martins
With artful composition and rigorously controlled framing; Edgar Martins creates sublimely beautiful views of often un-beautiful sites. As David Campany writes in the introduction to Topologies (Aperture, 2007) about the series: "Like geometric abstract painting or Minimalist sculpture, these photographs are all crisp color and hard edges, setting vertical striations of pavement against horizontal bands of guardrails and sound barriers." It is in this series Hidden and particularly this print from the series that he notes Martins "achieves some of his most subtle chromatic effects, as in the image of an orange and lavender wall melting into blue and gray pavement."
Certain themes recur throughout Martins's work: a sense of place and a sense of alienation from place, a sense of mystery, and a sense that something unsettling has just happened or is about to happen. As he states, "My work is a journey of recognition: space, as our object of understanding, is changing and because of this one needs to find a new critical language that supports it, and a new system of knowledge from which to derive our glossary of life. In my work there is a permanent ambivalence between poetic failure and the promise of success."
This work represents the ambiguous history of human impact on nature and as the artist states, "this series deals with the impact of modernism on the environment. But it also highlights photography’s inadequacies. Like the barriers, photography is a medium of facades."
Edgar Martins (born in Portugal, 1977) grew up in Macau, China; he has lived in England since 1996. His first limited-edition book, Black Holes and Other Inconsistencies, was awarded the Thames and Hudson and RCA Society Art Book Prize; his second, The Diminishing Present, was published in 2006. He is represented by the Photographers’ Gallery, London; Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York; The Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles; and Galeria Graça Brandão, Oporto, and Lisbon, Portugal.
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Photographs by Edgar Martins
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Untitled, from the series The Accidental Theorist, 2007