Ratio 3 is pleased to announce Earth Hymns, an exhibition of artworks by Bristol-based artist, Martyn Cross (b. 1975). For his first solo exhibition outside of the United Kingdom, Cross presents an array of paintings and works on paper produced over the past two years.
Painting primarily with oil onto canvas, Cross renders distinctive landscapes, figures, and glyphs in thin layers of dry-brushed pigment. Cross’s methodical application of layered color produces surfaces that appear variously weathered and patinated–like those of unearthed artifacts– while also lending a subtle brilliance to compositions that may appear desaturated at first glance.
Across iterations of related compositions in varied palettes, Cross builds an increasingly immersive world through various recurring scenes and motifs. Rivers assuming the form of human limbs, skies with multiple moons or suns, human figures in various states of repose, contemplation, or distress emerging from, or merging into, their environments– each suggests an untold tale or evokes an existing, yet unspecified, set of fictions or mythologies. Earth Hymns seems to depict a distinct place undergoing continuous change, as though observed from different vantages and throughout seasons.
The combination of Cross's complex color choices, weathered textures, and evocative imagery instill his paintings with an ambiguous narrative that alludes to the ominous and absurd aspects of the current moment, from our collective ecological reckoning to the more intimate and introspective parts of human experience. Seemingly culled from familiar pieces of collective memory and cultural remnants, the pictures comprising Earth Hymns have a contemporary yet timeless relevance.
Martyn Cross has lived and worked in Bristol for over a decade, exhibiting regularly in the UK. In the months leading up to Earth Hymns, Cross’s artworks were recently included in A Thought Sublime, a group exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, and Ratio 3’s Summer Sessions group exhibition in Los Angeles.