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Kenneth Martin : a spare austerity

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  • Criminology

Abstract

The invitation to write this essay came from Alan Haydon and Jenny Lomax, curators of 'Kenneth Martin & Mary Martin: Constructed Works', a landmark exhibition that examines the development of these two major figures in the history of British abstract art. The curators asked Hugonin to explore parallels between his own paintings and Kenneth Martin’s late series ‘Chance, Order, Change.’ His text, although short, was an important practice-led contribution to a catalogue that gave the views of contemporary artists priority over historical information. Haydon’s and Lomax’s idea was to juxtapose the constructivism of both artists (including Kenneth Martin’s kinetic mobile sculptures and Mary Martin’s relief sculptures and architectural maquettes) and Hugonin’s writing responded to the sense of occasion created by this joint exhibition of two influential artists. In his essay the researcher argues that Kenneth Martin was a particularly inventive user of number-oriented methods. Hugonin explores a favourite work ‘Chance, Order, Change 27 (Green) History Painting’ (1983) contrasting Martin’s approach with his own experience of the creative interaction of intuition and logic. The research embedded in the essay arises from a series of experiments that resulted in a major series of new paintings: Untitled XII (02-05), XIII (03-05), XIV (05), and XV (06-07). This last work is illustrated alongside Hugonin’s text. Hugonin is a visiting professor in the division of visual arts and his theoretical engagement with the nature of systems-based art practices has provided supervisory support for an AHRC funded doctoral project by Lavell entitled: ‘The Power of Naming: what happens when an artist incorporates forensic science methodology into his studio practice?’ This practice-led PhD contrasts, but also tries to reconcile, certain creative resemblances between systems art and obsessive serial offence. Hugonin is part of Lavell’s interdisciplinary supervision team which includes both criminologists and fine artists.

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