Critics’ Picks

Whoosh, 2005.

New York

Patrick Martinez

Parker's Box
193 Grand Street
September 16–October 17, 2005

Do the ends justify the means? This question, which must plague many if not all artists, was neatly rendered moot by French artist Patrick Martinez’s second New York solo exhibition, titled “The Ends.” Here ends became means: Martinez used either markers or ball-point pens on the verge of expiration to execute his drawings. The almost-dead markers lend a feathery lightness to his lines, so that the drawings made with that unusual implement, such as Poisson Fakir (all works 2005), possess an airy delicacy. In contrast, two works done in ballpoint pen have a kind of ferocity; Untitled, rendered in black ink, recalls the cloud of dirt that trailed Pigpen. “The Ends” also includes Woof, an installation that dominates the main space: Two loudspeakers, removed from their cabinets and set on short metal stools within a white rectangle painted on the floor, literally dance to music composed by the artist. One speaker is lighter than the other (they are different brands), and it bounces around the heavier one like a young boxer trying to intimidate an aging champ. But the highlight is the site-specific work Bomb. To make the piece, the artist stood in front of a white wall and fired black spray paint at a single spot until the can was empty. It is a stark, elegant performative gesture. Far from boding an end, this exhibition is a clear signal that we can expect still more interesting work from Martinez.