June Kelly Gallery


Charles Martin

Charles Martin-Urban Anthill, NYC, 2019, C-print, 16 x 24 inches, ed. 5

Urban Anthill, NYC, 2019
C-print, 16 x 24 inches
Edition 1/5

 The June Kelly Gallery opens its 2022-23 season with Metropolis, the gallery’s eighth exhibition of photography by Charles Martin – views that articulate chance bracketing of architectural form, scale, and milieu, will open at 166 Mercer Street, on Thursday, September 8.  The work will remain on view through October 18.

Photographer Charles Martin, also filmmaker and writer, says, Metropolis is drawn from such cities as New York, São Paulo, Paris and Montréal, the emphasis is a general sense rather than an explicit essay about any particular one.  Daylight, twilight, and electricity luminously shape and paint the cities.  Expanses, constructed or patches of nature, are equally urban, and in evidence at ground level and from high perches.

Martin says, the views in Metropolis, as in Ferryboat, an earlier exhibition, are less a document than an evocation, an essay, a “think piece” about city, but not enclosed by it, and fascinated by many elements.  “Multiple activity, sometimes subterranean, identifies cities and the people who reside and work in them.

Nevertheless, writes Martin, the touchstone kernel and outstanding sign of Metropolis, visually, is the blend or interruption of architectural form and scale set comfortably or awkwardly in nature, if only under the sky or amid a body of water (Edifice Canyon, 2022).  Structures, worn or new, seen directly or in reflection are, like drawings or sculpture, lines and shapes aligned and shuffled, brought together, and sighted by eyes and lenses to be affixed, sometimes, in film, in pixels or memory.  In the lyrics of the song, “Concrete Jungle,” Bob Marley wonders what the city has “got for me now?”  In the photos of Metropolis, forms of vision are a thing that the city has got. Henri Cartier-Bresson often referred to geometry, so evident in his photos, as essential to visual art. People delight in such form.

While Martin says his photographs are usually unplanned and carried out quickly, the sense of instantaneous and deep connection with subject is apparent.  His strong perceptiveness results in distinctive photographic accounts.  Martin’s vision and ingenious process, rich in narrative potential, mysterious and intuitive are grounded in the everyday reality of the subject.

Occasionally, writes Martin, a dream or a nightmare is concocted from concrete, glass, metal, water, sky, and light.  Alfred Stieglitz, photographer, and advocate of art was famously appalled at the idea that the power of his photography came from its subject matter.  Stieglitz wanted to show that photography could be abstract and more or less free of reference.  Reformulated, the thought might be that sight, itself, can ultimately be the primary subject. (Triplex, 2022)

Martin lives and works in New York.  He is a graduate of Yale University, where he received a master’s degree and a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese.  He studied photography at the Yale School of Art with Thomas Roma and JoAnn Walters.  Martin’s photographs have been shown in numerous one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States, in Europe and in South America.  His work is included in many private and public collections, among them The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of the City of New York, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, and the Walter Heun Collection.


Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Reflecting on Sunset, NYC - 2019

Triplex, NYC - 2022

Edifice Canyon, NYC - 2022

  Charles Martin Bio

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(Between Houston and Prince Streets)
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