Crystalised Borders – Sam Martin

Words by Sarah Hunt

Photos by Andy Donohoe

ARC One Gallery – 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD

Melbourne artist Sam Martin’s latest exhibition, Crystalised Borders, launched last Saturday, is a carnival of abstract ideas and colours.

As you enter Arc One Gallery from blustery Flinders Lane, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into a daydream of long-forgotten summer. The dozen work exhibition uses nonfigurative form and imagery to give the impression the viewer is looking at the periphery of their own consciousness.
For this reason, it’s hard to intellectualize Crystalised Borders; the responses it elicits are primarily emotional. One of the exhibition’s highlight pieces, Speculate Pattern Reflection Recognition, is a particularly powerful example of emotional ambiguity. The painting has a controlled chaos feel to it, allowing the viewer into draw out their own emotional state depending on where their eyes meet the canvas.

Despite the ambiguity in Martin’s work, his execution is all boldness. The exhibition space uses stark white walls to cleverly highlight the intensity of the work. The vibrancy of his palette is exceptional and works such as Commuting Red and Fractured Team are visual feasts. Crystalised Borders is not the first for Martin at Arc One. He has already gained considerable recognition in the art community, receiving the Arc One Gallery/Monash Prize and the Tolarno Hotel Painting Prize amongst others.

Crystalised Borders is a departure from his 2010 Overloaded Man exhibition style, however, which drew more heavily on impressionist forms. The painting Building Water, in particular, shows how Martin’s transition from a strongly figured style to more abstract representations of the people he paints.
If you are looking for a hideaway from Melbourne’s cold winter days, Crystalised Borders is an exhibition you won’t want to miss.