Pow Martinez

Delusions of Grandeur Woke Farm

About the Artist

Pow Martinez is a recipient of the 2010 Ateneo Art Award for his exhibition 1 Billion Years at West Gallery, Philippines. He exhibits internationally and has worked with different media, from painting to sound. Martinez’s paintings belie their grotesque subject matter with indelibly beautiful surfaces and a wide-ranging, daring use of color. Mutants, monsters, demons, deviants, and freaks lurch, sit, and appear to transform amidst weirdly lit landscapes or disintegrating urban scenarios, or emerge from a painterly graffito mess, but, as his more abstracted works insist, Martinez’s ability to render intriguing relationships between forms and surfaces ensure his works are endlessly compelling—an experience akin to a beautiful nightmare.

Pow Martinez lives and works in Manila, Philippines.

Provided by: Erlyz Santos, Silverlens

Curatorial Notes

Known for paintings that are once grotesque yet described as “indelibly beautiful,” Pow Martinez continues the “bad art” tradition in Philippine contemporary art popularized by such notables as Manuel Ocampo and Jason Oliveira. Characterized by lurid colors, bold strokes, and elements of the uncanny, his surreal scenes constitute a critique of modern life, in which figures—usually freaks, monsters, and outsiders of society—perform seemingly banal tasks against a mishmash of elements, seeming to extract normalcy from the disarray. Martinez challenges the viewer to consider their relationship with his works, particularly the imposition of meaning onto something that resists such an attempt. His every work may be seen as an invitation to be at ease with the disorder, especially in such a socio-political climate where even “realities” can be manufactured.

While Martinez paints otherworldly scenarios, he draws inspiration from recent events, watching YouTube documentaries on conflict zones and the climate crisis. The news of the day is then refracted through the artist’s untamed imagination, which then churns out complex forms, shapes, and textures. His subjects, in relation to their surroundings, give off hyper-focused expressions that evoke a sense of detachment. Such an attitude may be the condition—or the predicament—of living in the moment, when the only certainty seems to be the annihilation of the human species.

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