Oil on canvas
Cultural resuscitation, a general theme in the artist’s recent paintings, is not accomplished just by recognizing it as a problem. The diagnosis of disease—it is no accident that Martinez’s earliest work often dealt with this—does not cure anything. One senses already that this young artist guards a deep undertow of suspicion that society hasn’t a clue as to how far its own general moral calamity has metastasized.
Just as Martinez deepens the cultural resonance of his paintings by references to Greek myth and Jean Paul Sartre, his allusions to Thomas Hobbes and his classic Leviathan directly inflates the ersatz whale imagery which dominates this piece. Like all out-of-control bureaucracies (one has only to imagine health care) the fascination of this painting comes from the creature’s “plastic” unawareness of the man’s self-attempted Heimlich Maneuver. Still more ironic is the man’s seeming indifference to his own looming fate. As we have seen before, Martinez’s ineffectual “arrows” of direction hardly seem to provide any direction out of the calamity at all.