Paul Kuhn Gallery
Cancel request
March 4 through April 1, 2017

Martin Pearce Traces/Tracing

A version of the show Traces/Tracing was first exhibited January-May 2016 at Gallery Stratford,

Stratford Ontario. This exhibition brings together some large paintings from 2010-2011 with some new

smaller works.

The large paintings adopt a modernist trope, that of the reduction of organic forms (of a tree, for

example that we might find in Mondrian’s work) to a matrix of horizontal and vertical lines – in these

paintings those matrices become unstable grids. The lines in the paintings were made with a china

marker or grease pencil and they were systematically applied and partially erased several times in order

to “complicate” the network of marks; the various iterations of superimposed grid-like lines building a

set of “traces” on the surface. Those traces have an indeterminate status, one that may refer to the

original object (that tree again) or to the visual language employed to suggest the presence of that


The smaller paintings propose a different descriptive language in contrast to the grid; fragments of

incised line dealing with the particular structure of leaf and branch. Once more a trace of the object

appears. This time the trace is traced (!) as an image is projected onto the surface of the paintings and

scratched into an encaustic ground. Some of the images of trees used come from art historical sources,

others from observational drawings made using a camera lucida.

These are all drawings more than paintings and drawing is an activity that I find to be fundamentally

speculative. The question, for me, has to be: how can a work of art address its material condition and

simultaneously conjure an imaginary world?