Carlos Martins (1946 - )


Aquatint on paper
height: 27cm
width: 26cm

Donated by Carlos Martins 1998


Martins had received a British Academy grant to study architecture at Edinburgh University between 1973 and 1975, and in his final year he studied etching at the Slade, London, where he went on to take a specialised course in printmaking techniques. Journey to Portugal is a series of individually titled engravings produced during this time, of which ESCALA holds three examples. Cristais, which is part of this series, shows a development from Martins' earlier interior studies, such as Top Flat. The composition is cropped, and small details are brought into focus. This work shows skilful handling of engraving techniques, which allow for differentiation in texture, light and shade. While the engraving remains figurative, the different depths created by architectural detail create a dynamic abstract composition and cropping gives the scene a disquieting, surrealistic edge. While undertaking specialist training in printmaking technique, Martins was also gaining close familiarity with historic works at the Print Rooms of the British Museum. The series title is perhaps inspired by M. Link's famous 1797 work 'Voyage en Portugal', a visual record of travel through regions of Portugal concentrating, unusually for the time, on personal rather than monumental landmarks. Journey to Portugal is therefore an early indication of Martins' interest in the European tradition of the traveller-artist. On returning to Brazil Martins became particularly interested in 'Brasiliana': works by 19th century European artists documenting their impressions of travelling to Brazil.

Isobel Whitelegg, 01/12/2008

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