When neon was first discovered in the late 1800’s, it was named after the Greek analogue of “novum” meaning new. The Packard Motor Company of California first brought neon blubs to America in 1923… from which it soon became associated as a symbol of the American dream. In early years neon signs stopped traffic as people stared in fascination. The “Liquid Fire” captivated the public and it wasn’t long before neon was everywhere. Neon theater marquee, nightclub and restaurant signs became an integral part of the streamlined American landscape. Fast forward to today, and anything that aims to catch our attention must be written in neon.
It is no wonder that neon holds a special place within the world of contemporary art, a symbolic medium with massive metaphorical weight despite its light as air quality. What was once a source of fascination and new possibility for advertising and messaging has become an emblem of caution. Neon is associated with consumerism and influence, and in today’s world we have no choice but to be skeptical of what we are being told.
Yet, what is most alluring about Patrick Martinez’s work is the pure truth that it holds. With neon as his primary medium, the messaging within his art does not feel so much like a trick but instead the reveal of a secret we already knew. We know neon, it is familiar and comfortable; Patrick’s subject matter is as well. Guns, violence, food choices… are our everyday reality. But this exhibit is about seeing things differently, particularly the most familiar… a sign, a still life, an apple, a gun. Art from everyday messaging rides a dangerous line between being simple and being brilliant. I chose to show Patrick’s work at Public Functionary because it accomplishes both, simplicity and brilliance. There are layers to reveal and hidden stories in this work, yet it is also pleasing for it’s pure contemporary essence, a bright sign and a witty message.
Get comfortable, look… and see new.
[THE ARTIST] Patrick Martinez (Los Angeles)
Martinez explores the traditional art form of still life painting paired with his trademark text-based neon works, remixing contemporary culture archetypes found in his home city. In a style that he has made signature, the combination of neon-lit sculptures and paintings evoke new meanings and realizations about society and the conversations therein. With a cultural background that includes Filipino, Mexican and Native American heritage, Martinez was born and raised in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and was a stand-out artist at last year’s SCOPE Miami Art Fair, having been dubbed an “artist on the rise.” He has also exhibited at Known Gallery in Los Angeles, Circuit 12 in Dallas, Showroom Mama in Rotterdam and Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco, among others.
Patrick Martinez portrait photo credit: Sharolyn Hagen
[DOCUMENTATION] The Exhibition
To view the full album of images documenting Patrick Martinez: Buy Now Cry Later, CLICK HERE.
To view further documentation of the opening celebration and ongoing PF Takeover Friday Nights, CLICK HERE.
In his first Midwest solo exhibition, Patrick Martinez examines a contemporary crisis: the dwindling quality of life due to the consumerist and nutritional choices of mainstream America. Buy Now Cry Later poses as a metaphor for the overall consumption and insatiable need for “more” in the modern world. We are stressed and medicated, balancing our fears over job security, guns, cost of living, violence, diet, money, race relations, education and health. All of these issues weigh the same when it comes to societal problems in dire need of solving; all are symbols that point to a troubled collective culture–a melting pot identity in crisis.
Local Exhibit Partners: Scenergy Events, Eat Street Social & Bittercube, Greenroom Magazine, Face Forward, Rhymesayers & Letoile Magazine.
[DOCUMENTATION] Process / Installation
For full photo documentation of the installation process: CLICK HERE.