“Martin’s investigation of the formal and material elements of painting have long been confined to acrylic paint,” writes Walter Klepac. “In the series To Foil Oils, Phase I–IV, however, Martin addresses the medium of oil paint. With Phase III (1997) and Phase IV (1997-1998) of the To Foil Oils series, his exploration of the medium attains a fullness and an exuberance that marks these works as exceptional. One way to think of the To Foil Oils is to see them in terms of the task of setting 100 colours of the Winsor & Newton series into play on a single canvas, and to do so in a way that the singularity and the brilliant clarity of each is preserved and enhanced. The colours in the manufacturer’s series of oil paints are presented to us as directly as possible, fresh from the tube, as it were […] The psychic energy that these colours hold for us appears grounded inextricably in the physical substance of the paint. This union adamantly preserves the fundamental tension between the two.”
“Within the Winsor & Newton series, Phase III, #5–10,” including the present work, “one notices that a particular circle in one painting will recur in another painting in the series. The difference will be that the circle in the second painting will occupy a different position within the general framework of the painting as a whole. Telling details start to emerge. With this change in location, for instance, there comes a corresponding change in size. All the same, the circle itself, whether reduced or enlarged in size, retains its precise order and number of colour bands at its core; only the number of outermost lines has been gained or lost. It soon becomes clear that the circles (seen as particular combinations of colours) can and do function at times as both constant and variables […] So successful and thorough-going is the integration and so distinct is the aesthetic character of each of these paintings that one does not necessarily become aware of such interconnections until sometime after initial viewing, if at all,” concludes Klepac.
It is interesting to note the direct link between Martin’s material-based polychromatic To Foil Oil phase III paintings and his monochromatic, material-based body of work from the 1970s.