Marianne Boesky Gallery presents Roarings Further Out, the first New York solo exhibition of the Bristol, United Kingdom--based artist Martyn Cross. Executed at a small scale, the all-new works on view unfurl into luminous, uncanny landscapes informed by Cross’s fascination with medieval imagery and the speculative literary genre known as weird fiction. The exhibition takes its title from a series of four novellas by Algernon Blackwood, one of weird fiction’s most prolific authors, and touches on the genre’s themes, including otherworldly environments and alternative human experiences.
Medieval imagery –– from bestiaries to imaginative cartographies –– frequently eschews distinctions between human and animal, physical and celestial landscapes. Similarly, in Cross’s compositions a human figure might morph into a mountain, while eyes morph into suns or flames. In A Thousand Voices Answer, an element that at first appears as a wave in an abstracted seascape curls almost sentiently around the shape of a sun; by the time the shape reaches its directional resolution it has come to resemble an earthbound vine. One Tooth in an Open Jaw suggests eyes as much as teeth, and the galactic scale of comets as much as the intimate scale of a human mouth.
Like much twentieth-century speculative fiction, Blackwood’s novellas are concerned with the narrative establishment of alternative realities beyond the surface of the everyday, and which unsettle assumed notions of time and place. This theme is evident in the material construction as much as in the content of Cross’s paintings, on which he layers dry-brushed pigment that is scrubbed and scratched, achieving a weathered effect that evokes the aged look of medieval manuscripts and wall paintings. This process yields a grainy, worn texture glowing with an internal luminosity, evoking metaphysical worlds or foggy mythological dreamscapes in which shapeshifting and metamorphosis are possible. Although small in scale, Cross’s paintings present worlds that are immersive and vast. Appearing as if excavated from the ground, the paintings in Roarings Further Out seem to possess their own unique histories, unbound by the constraints of time or setting. Cross embraces this ambiguity and provides opportunities for boundless narratives to be woven into existence.
Martyn Cross (b. 1975, Yate, United Kingdom) holds a BA in Fine Art from Bath University. He has exhibited at galleries and institutions across the United Kingdom and internationally, including Hales London; Ratio 3, San Francisco; OSHSH Projects, London; Oceans Apart, Manchester; Bath Spa University; Spike Island, Bristol; LIMBO, Margate; Stroud Museum, UK; Kettles Yard, Cambridge, among others. Cross lives and works in Bristol, United Kingdom.