We discovered Will’s work at the London Art Fair 3-4 years ago. At the time, he was represented by another gallery and the scale of the work was tiny compared to the huge museum-scale canvases you see now. But even then, the Hockney-esque nostalgia of his work stood out from the crowd and we were compelled to reach out. We kicked off by displaying two mid-scale tondo canvases in our Soho gallery, which sold within an hour of us hanging them in the space. After that, one of the biggest collectors in the world commissioned 12 huge-museum scale pieces, which was a huge spring-board for Will’s trajectory. We have since staged two major solo exhibitions which have sold out entirely. On the surface, the obvious appeal of the work is the bright, vivid colours and the nostalgia that triggers memories of places you have travelled in your past. But beneath that is a more sinister absence of humanity, which is what gives depth to his paintings and what we personally are most drawn to. Does utopia / happiness exist? Unit Gallery
London-based artist Will Martyr produces beautifully complex compositions that explore our fascinating relationship with the domestic environment. Martyr uses a mixture of his own photography and found imagery (taken from the diverse locations he has visited) to create an ethereal utopia that capture scenes with a sense of privilege. His pieces are playful and trigger a memory or personal moment that therefore leave the viewer to discover their own personal narrative from the piece. He is heavily influenced by the architectural works of Bauhaus, muddling the distinctions
between art and architecture. The art movements of Futurism and Vorticism are also a huge influence for Martyr, expressing the energy of the modern world with hard-edged imagery. He has studied both in London and New York and has featured his work at two solo shows at Unit London.
My compositions aim to dramatize the sublime pleasures of life. Their stunning locations and playful character provide the viewer with the architecture of happiness for living. A luminous use of colour creates a warmth and certainty to life, which is exhilarating and effortless. Inclusive, refined and meticulously painted, my, at times, surreal compositions are joyful in their vigour and unapologetic about their indulgence.
“My work depicts somehow universally familiar vistas which are inspired by many diverse locations I have visited. My work offers a prolonged invitation to stay and play. This playfulness of spirit evokes a mood of refined recreation, family and a sense of nostalgia that we have all enjoyed. We have all played, loved and laughed in these locations and it is in this collective prosperity and inclusiveness that the viewers private reminiscence is possible. Often inflatables, ice creams and fruit are depicted which demand a more mischievous interaction by the viewer.
My work is executed with exceptional finish. Each of the painting’s compositions are hand-drawn onto canvas. It is painstakingly masked off and cut to
shape using surgical blades before being hand-painted in acrylic. Upon closer inspection of the painted surface, you are able to see the layers of paint and raised impasto elements, which reveals my scrupulous devotion to quality.
My paintings have drawn parallels with David Hockney’s work which were set within the prism of a sunny and sexy playground populated with the louche living. My works are just as playful yet require us to personally involve ourselves within the composition to discover our own private narrative. My works will trigger a memory or personal moment from our own past or desire for our future. It is this that makes my work euphoric, seductive and inclusive at the same time.”