Carlos Martins (1946 - )

Top Flat (1975)

Aquatint on paper
height: 50cm
width: 35cm

Donated by Carlos Martins 1998


Produced in 1975, this is the earliest engraving by Carlos Martins held by ESCALA and it is one of the artist's first works. Martins had received a British Academy grant to study architecture at Edinburgh University in 1973, and during his final year he also enrolled at the Slade, London, to study etching. He went on to take a specialised course in printmaking techniques at the Slade and Top Flat is one of a series of works produced during his first academic term. The engraving depicts the interior of his bedroom, with its view of London rooftops and chimneys. The detailed depiction of intimate spaces has gone on to become one of the defining aspects of his work, a characteristic that received particular support from leading Brazilian critics such as Wilson Coutinho and Frederico Morais, when the artist returned to Brazil at the end of the decade. Top Flat also shows an early respect for traditional printmaking techniques. While studying at the Slade, Martins spent time amongst the collections of the British Museum's print rooms, and he has commented that this experience was inspiration in part for his career as a pioneering museologist. With a particular passion for making the history of Brazilian printmaking visible and widely accessible, Martins created the Gabinete de Gravura (Print Room) at the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, in 1981 and acted as its curator in chief until 1987.

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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