The Paul Mahder Gallery is pleased to present Excavation - Patterns in Time, a solo exhibition of paintings by Martin Facey. This body of work marks a watershed shift in tone, intent and technique for this lifetime California artist.

Facey’s new work culminates 40 years of explorations with symbolic imagery, rich surfaces, primal subjects and faith in processes that invite chance, accident, gesture, gravity, and time as “worthy partners.” Abandoning the bright color and slick modernism of earlier successes, Facey’s mature vision returns to simpler compositions, earthy coloration and deeper revelations that evoke profound questions.

Facey now works “in reverse.” His explorations of the past decade have yielded inventive techniques that re-order the way a painting is constructed.

Unlike traditional artworks that start with ‘ground’ or background, then acquire ever-advancing “foreground” elements, concluding with the “final touches,” Facey’s sophisticated innovations flip that traditional order to “finish” first, and “background” last.

These alluvial paintings replicate the process of birth and life both in imagery as well as in studio practice, by embedding raw materials, leaves, bark, flowers, nails, wire, sewing patterns and lint, water and other earthy elements. Facey’s paintings stay ‘wet’ for days, weeks, even months, never drying, always dynamic, never static. In that sense, water and time, themselves, become inquisitors.

“Water always knows what to do; water is a good collaborator, turning plant to peat, to coal, and finally to diamond. Excavation is about discovery-or perhaps ‘recovery’- a reminder of ancient wisdoms, long buried and now unearthed.”

For one instance, Facey’s seminal symbolic motif of his career is the primal “Y” shape. Intended to evoke a myriad of associations such as a fork in the road, a primitive human figure, a divining rod, or any bifurcating botanical structure of trunk or branches, Facey’s motif is both recognizably singular but suggestively plural. The “Y” shape conjures themes of self-replication, fractal systems, divination, choices, male and female, order and chaos, and ultimately the tree of life. We sense a subjective archaeology, travelling through time, disassociated yet discovering, with fleeting moments of earthly suspension and perhaps flickers of timeless truth.

Facey’s ruggedly assured work advances his concerns beyond art-magazine speculations of detached postmodern ideas, and asks important questions…bigger questions. What is timeless, not just timely? Martin Facey’s Excavations invite us to just such a worthy engagement.

Martin Facey’s career includes both a Guggenheim Fellowship in Painting, as well as the now-extinct Single Artist Fellowship in Painting from the National Endowment of Arts. He is also an award-winning Professor of Visual Arts, serving the University of New Mexico for 22 years as Professor Emeritus in Visual Arts. He earned a Masters in Fine Arts from UCLA, studying with seminal icons such as Ed Ruscha, RB Kitaj, William Brice, Robert Heineken, Joyce Treiman, Lee Mullican, Charles Garabedian, and Richard Diebenkorn, a rich stew.

Paul Mahder Gallery
3378 Sacramento Street
San Francisco (CA) 94118 United States
Tel. +1 (415) 4747707

Opening hours
Monday - Saturday from 10am to 6pm
Sunday from 1pm to 5pm

Related images

  1. Martin Facey, “Rose Rust”, Acrylic, mixed media, fabric on panel, 60 x 43 inches, 2013
  2. Martin Facey, “Dogwood”, Acrylic, mixed media, fabric on panel, 68 x 42 inches, 2013
  3. Martin Facey, “Ghost Cherry”, Acrylic, mixed media, fabric on panel, 60 x 38 inches, 2013
  4. Martin Facey, “Lilies”, Acrylic, mixed media, fabric on panel, 74 x 45 inches, 2013
  5. Martin Facey, “Dogwood”, Acrylic, mixed media, fabric on panel, 44 x 35 inches, 2013
  6. Martin Facey, “Birch”, Acrylic, mixed media, fabric on panel, 68 x 42 inches, 2013