Agnes Martin imparted a legacy of abstraction that has inspired generations of artists. Using a limited palette and a geometric vocabulary, her works are inscribed with lines or grids that hover over subtle grounds of colour. Martin’s work is recognized as pure abstraction, in which space, metaphysics and internal emotional states are explored through painting, drawing and printmaking.
Lévy Gorvy in London presents FOCUS: Agnes Martin, an exhibition that places Martin’s unique completed film, Gabriel (1976), in dialogue with a selection of her abstract paintings. “I thought my movie was going to be about happiness,” Martin commented on the production of the film, “but when I saw it finished, it turned out to be about joy–the same thing my paintings are about.”
Shot in colour and without a script, Gabriel loosely follows its titular subject, a fourteen-year-old boy, as he wanders through rural landscapes of New Mexico, California, and Colorado; Martin herself lived and worked in New Mexico during this period. Rejecting a linear storyline, the film presents a portrait of joy through fragmented visions of the landscape interspersed with detailed shots of wildflowers billowing in the wind and a foaming stream in perpetual movement. Martin’s choice of protagonist reflects her interest with innocence and the un-mediated, un-corrupted, un-modified experience of a young boy responding to the beauty of the natural world. This exhibition seeks to draw out the parallels between the unadulterated joy expressed in Gabriel and the sublime serenity of Martin’s classic geometric paintings from the mid to late 1960s. Inviting the viewer to revel in the deep serenity that radiates from Martin’s canvases alongside the film’s luminous expression of unadulterated elation, the exhibition promises not only an immersion in the experience of joy, but an exploration of the syntax of sensation, allowing the viewer to linger in the pensive calm that Martin’s art, regardless of its medium, so exquisitely conveys. The exhibition runs until 13th April.