Seasons – Martin Whitworth
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 collage to present a spare, edgey, graphic narrative rich with figurative detail.
When Whitworth gets it right, his efficiency of line is remarkable, and he is clearly and exceptional draughtsman.
— Wayne Lorimer, review of Paintings/Drawings 1997
Whitworth, winner of the 2001 CoCA Award, deftly combines drawing with thinly brushed paintwork in his ‘Finished Draft for a Manifesto’ [Spring], a statement of his views on the current state of art. Texture, for Whitworth, is clearly passé.
— Robyn Ussher, review of CoCA Award/Guthrey Travel Award
‘The human body is still central to western art and it can never be bumped off the pedestal as far as I’m concerned. I made my decision to stay with it many years ago. I believe that if you find your métier you should stay with it and wring its neck; squeeze everything you can out of it.’
— Martin Whitworth, quoted in ‘Body of Evidence’ by Adrienne Rewi
Whitworth is probably as good a New Zealand proponent of freaked-out New Objectivity and painter of the emotional detritus of modern life as Jeffrey Harris. As with [R B] Kitaj, Whitworth’s draughtsmanship contrives a successful synthesis out of philosophy, sex, political feeling, paranoia, the literary and art history in the eternal war between Bohemia and Philistia. And he can draw.
— Andrew Paul Wood, ‘Flat lot of good’
No one-note minimalist, Whitworth gives it heaps. Formally and emotionally, his art throngs. His paintings are crammed with jarring leaps between modelled forms, flat zones of colour, collage elements, even sculpture: nails puncture the surface, canvas is butted and layered, wire is used as a kind of sculptural drawing, and these athletic deconstructions of the stretched canvas are played off against breathtakingly precise draughtsmanship.
— Justin Paton, review of Themes and Variations