Paul Martinson, Painter of Birds and Dreams

Limbo of the Mother Venus
by Paul Martinson
2009 Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
My friend Maria Middlestead purchased this painting and sent me the link to Paul Martinson’s work. Martinson is a famous painter from New Zealand specializing originally in scientific bird illustrations. 
Two Black and White Creatures in Trance and Sleep
by Paul Martinson
2007 Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
Live Trance Performance
by Paul Martinson
2009 Acrylic and watercolor on paper
Later in his life (and this interesting material from his gallery website): The artist acquainted himself, at a rudimentary level, with Freud’s concept of the “free flow of ideas” from the subconscious. This idea, with its basis in psychoanalysis, fundamentally informed Psychic Automatism, a method of expression predominantly influencing art and literature in the third decade of the twentieth century.
The Destination of Oblivion
by Paul Martinson
2009 Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
Psychic Automatism subsequently formed the basis of Andre Breton Surrealist’s Manifesto of 1924. The Manifesto claimed that, “Pure psychic automatism…(meant)…thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside any aesthetic or moral preoccupation.”
The Creatures Must Sleep
by Paul Martinson
2009 Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper

While Martinson acknowledges that it is impossible to give oneself over entirely to the “flow of information” from the subconscious uncensored by the intellect, he attempts to work by intuition alone without censoring on the basis of reason, scale and anatomical accuracy. 

 “Automatic drawing for me is a personal thing, but has in common with its origins in the Surrealist movement, a “sanctioned” right to draw spontaneously without conscious reference to normality, morality and social taboos…it is an attempt to allow a ” free flow” of imagery and ideas as a painter. I feel such freedom is an important aspect of personal expression.”
The Meaning of Mother
by Paul Martinson

2009 Watercolor, watercolor pencil and gouache on paper
The Aquatic Trance Trio

2009 Watercolor, watercolor pencil, gold foil and gouache on paper
For this artist, it is as if his subconscious is filled to overflowing with myriad experiences, thoughts and ideas around the depiction of birds, both extinct and existing, and they will make their presence felt. Martinson believes we are therefore, at any time the sum of our entire experience which includes on one hand the connections we make throughout our life with all other creatures on the planet, even fleetingly (this comprises the great range of relationships we make), everyday experience, and the swirling, interlocking personal reality of our subconscious, and all that it comprises. 
 Therefore, at the end of a decade of painting birds objectively they continue to dominate current work, although in contexts far removed from their purely representational origins – often in isolation, but more often, with a Venus figure.” (Source: Sanderson Contemporary Art Online Gallery)

The Creep of Cats
by Paul Martinson
2009 Acrylic on board
As a viewer, I respond on two levels to Martinson’s work. I respond as a birdwatcher, as an admirer of fine bird illustration to his scientific renderings. I respond as a poet and a dreamer to the staged psychodramas caught in the halflight between worlds of waking and sleeping. Each painting is an illustration from a story I seem to be telling myself that is too deep and too important to lose.

One thought on “Paul Martinson, Painter of Birds and Dreams”

  1. Oh my, this is quite the post catching me as I am unable to give it my full attention. Not fair but itis clearly very worth the effort to delve deeply. Martinson's work is exquisite, mysterious, deep. Thanks for this post, wow!

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