Next Big Things: Leslie Martinez
Known for dazzling paintings packed with found fabrics, Leslie Martinez is preparing for a solo show in Los Angeles
Leslie Martinez’s paintings explode with color and capture elements of light, air, and liquid through a rigorous process of adding unexpected materials to the canvas, creating otherworldly textures. By obfuscating the very nature of the compositions, each work becomes an image-based illusion that “explores the connections between queerness and borders.”
Material world: “The materials themselves are mostly related to the process of painting—rags used to clean up while I’m working; drop cloths used to protect the floor; worn-out clothes, towels, and bedding; dried chips of paint; or ashes. I see this process of collecting and transforming materials as a revolving no-waste endeavor.”
Magic moment: “There’s a part of the process after the large textural forms are arranged, when all the edges are sealed and blended into the surface, and the whole canvas gets painted in a thick white paint. There’s a moment of silence before an undisturbed physicality meets the ephemeral power of color, with its optical abilities to accentuate and obscure the work’s dimensionality.”
Up next: “I am currently working on a few new paintings based on what I’ve learned from the last ones. I’m also setting up a brand-new studio space in Dallas, as well as preparing for a group show this spring in Los Angeles.”
“Leslie packs paintings with found fabrics and other materials under complex layers of paint. The abstract compositions can be thought of as the skin of a landscape or a galactic starburst that invites us in.”Marcela Guerrero, associate curator, Whitney Museum of American Art
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2021 Winter Issue under the headline “Next Big Things.” Subscribe to the magazine.