Schism Art in Christchurch – Martin Whitworth
Schism Art in Christchurch is cut together by Martin Whitworth from a multitude of references. Each piece contains collisions of content, figure and form. Self-portraits, studies and texts stick alongside commercial logos, images by other artists, cut-up text and abstracted forms. These works draw from a history of practice in which the artist has explored themes of the body, conflict and memory. Whitworth plays with the tensions of dividing forces – schisms in religion, war, art criticism and consumerism are all present here.
The initial impression of randomness is quickly belied by the formal considerations behind each work. There is sensitivity to graphic elements such as space, borders, line and texture. Figures are caught in tight spaces but still retain a sense of balance. Whitworth also explores the edges of the surfaces, expanding the content vertically and horizontally. Further unfinished edges lend a rugged quality that reflects the rawness of these works. In moving from painting on canvas, as seen in previous bodies of work, to collage, Whitworth establishes new tensions and contrasts between different mediums, meaning and imagery. Through the medley of content and making, Whitworth achieves the titular ‘schism’.
Christchurch painter Martin Whitworth graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1983. Since then he has developed a strong reputation as a skilled draughtsman, colourist, craftsman and accomplished artist, using minimal lines, flat colour planes and an often-restricted pallet to present a spare, edgey, graphic narrative rich with figurative detail.