April 2016_by Federica Tattoli
Martin Basher’s painting and sculptural work is situated in the lineage of display-based artistic practices. Working with the languages of retail and advertising, Basher explores the emotional charge of common objects and images. From his trademark paintings of gradated stripes and photo-real beaches to sculptural installations serving as displays for consumer goods, Basher activates spaces of sublimated psychological desire, at once familiar and strange for the altered retail scenarios they present. In these complex displays, Basher invokes unspoken drives, and the mundane and exclusive, the highbrow and lowbrow, and the public and private impulses that inform us as consuming individuals.
How would you present your work?
Sculptures and painting in bawdy conversation.
In what way do advertising images inspire your paintings?
Advertising is all promise and surface and aspiration. I’m really interested in the way that advertized things promise to complete your life. Advertizing images and display presentations always seem so good that they upstage the real. I’m interested in capturing some of that perfection. Perfect surface. Sublimated desires.
What is painting for you?
Painting is a chance to get in deep with the unknown and awesome. Painting is 30% science and 20% alchemy and the rest is luck. Never turns out as planned.
Digital vs analogue… what do you think about it?
I’m placing even bets. Digital is quick but analogue can just keep taking the punches. It’s going to go the full 12 rounds. Bloody.
Where do you make your works?
My Brooklyn studio. I just renovated the space and its great. Wall of windows. I’m totally getting a potted-plant soon.
What can’t be missing from your worktable?
Old home made brushes, coffee cup, tape measure, tape and stereo remote.
A collection you wish at least one work of yours was part of?
The private collections of artists are the best.
A museum where you’d like to have an exhibition?
The market or your need to express?
You can’t think about the market…
Lightness or depth?
Totally heavy and completely shallow.
Day or night?
I usually try for regular days unless I’m under deadline, then it’s like 24/7. Best ideas come at night through…
A question you’ve never been asked but one you’ve always wanted to answer?
Would you like this suitcase of money?
Answer that question…
Yes if it’s a collector asking the question, no if it’s a tweaker in the airport immigration line.
Could you briefly describe one of your latest works?
I just started making these really involved paintings based on really quick Photoshop drawings. I showed the first one in Milan at MiArt with Anat Ebgi. They mix up my abstract work and advertizing images. I think they are really interesting – they are beautiful but resistant, lush without being completely seductive.
What are you reading?
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James and Interplay by Amy Brandt, which is about Neo Conceptual art in the ‘80s
Where would you like to live?
Somewhere with peacocks and a fountain in the driveway big enough to crash my Bentley into.
Do you have reference artists? Artists you’d like to work with?
Thomas Cole, The French academy, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Agnes Martin. Cady Noland, Haim Steinbach, early Jeff Koons. Carol Bove is great. Matthew Brannon. Mika Tajima. Brent Wadden is really interesting. Alain Biltereyst.
A project, related to art, that you’d like to do?
My wife is a director – making a feature film with her would be pretty awesome.
If you weren’t an artist, what job would you like?
I’d like to be a really big boss.
Let’s imagine a group show. Who would you like to exhibit with?
All the people from reference list above. Also David Scanavino, Jason Losh, Colby Bird, Tamar Halpern. Brie Ruais.
Yes or no to curators? If yes, who would you choose?
Yes to curators, no to telling which ones.
A dream of yours?
Can’t say I remember my dreams, but I hope to go out smiling.