Gregory Martin

Gregory Martin's works reflect emotions that play off the environment
"El Dopa Europa" and other acrylic- and latex-on-canvas paintings by Ashland artist Gregory Martin will show through Thursday, Feb. 21, at the SOU/RCC Higher Education Center in Medford.

A graphic designer by trade, Gregory Martin is a student of typography and utilizes words and numbers in his paintings to give context to the abstract content of his works.

Large, weathered, industrial-looking text is a signature component of Martin's work, as are abstractions of the human figure and nondescript urban settings.

"I'm trying to use shapes and colors to convey the mood these characters find themselves in," says Martin, who works in Southern Oregon University's marketing department. "They (the subjects) are in very — I would call — in between moments."

His large-scale, acrylic- and latex-on-canvas paintings take on qualities of abstract expressionism and cubism.

"I work big, fast and loose ... and use the dynamic breakup of space to convey energy and movement," he says.

More than a dozen of these paintings, including selections from his 2011 exhibit, "Headspace," and five new works, will be displayed through Thursday, Feb. 21, on the ground floor of the SOU/Rogue Community College Higher Education Center, 101 S. Bartlett St., Medford.

Three of Martin's new pieces compose a triptych based on the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East. Having traveled to Egypt, Martin says he felt a connection to what was happening there.

"The first one (painting) depicts a dictator of sorts, kind of a composite of numerous dictators but no one in particular," he says. "The second one is called 'Insist Resist,' and it tries to depict the general public — the people revolting — and symbolize their plight. And the third one tries to get at a more individual perspective, a portrait of a single person caught up in the movement."

Other new works reflect the current economic situation by illustrating anonymous people in unfortunate circumstances.

"There is one couple that's depicted with the phrase 'This royal ruin,' and as I made my way into painting, I realized I was working with a couple that is about to lose their house and is in the headlights thinking, 'What will we do?' " Martin explains.

The verbiage on a second painting, also of a man and a woman, reads "Pool closed."

"In this one, we're dealing with two people who have driven all day," Martin says. "They are hot, tired and pissed, and we gather from this painting (that) they have reached a crappy motel, and the pool is closed."

HEC hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Call 541-552-6794.

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