Oil, spray and graphite on canvas
A river of intellectual frustration seems to confront Martinez in his large, aptly-named canvas entitled Whiteout. The most extreme form of snow-blindness, in which the real world essentially vanishes under certain blizzard conditions, Martinez’s eponymous painting employs not only acres of un-differentiated white, it poses a problem in moral systems: why does the child go unsaved? Why does the mother comfort, but not resuscitate, him? And why is the inexplicably nude father on another planet, not even staring into their picture plane at the appalling scene? His indifference dominates the painting. Or is it solely indifference? Martinez is getting better at finessing the most irony possible out of exigencies.
A sweeping swath of pictorialism, starting at lower left with the mother and child, proceeding to the father in the center, and finishing with the orange arrow pointing off-canvas on the right, assembles a perplexing narrative of unnecessary hopelessness. If you look at the father’s eyes, etched with some central unexplained grief, the viewer begins to see he has been shut down. His barely-puffed-out cheeks summon the very air that might have saved his son. One feels he had given up before the action of this “painting of recollection” even started. Is Martinez really making a larger cultural statement? Maybe. The mother, locked intact with the child in a sharp contour line (unlike the father, who barely has a contour) makes sure the child dies comfortably, without making any discernible effort on his behalf. Maybe she, not the deracinated father, is the real monster.