Martinello’s recent paintings are her unique surveys of ancient places constructed from layered mylar with graphite and oils. These works manifest from geological formations of cenotes (a natural pit, or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath) across the Yucatán Peninsula in Southeastern Mexico. The works are a continuation of Martinello’s “research into the links between history and geography, and its political involvement with space, place and landscape.”
The composition of the paintings have light and airy elements balanced by deep cuts and dark black lines. The mylar veil some elements and expose others. An earthy colour palette turned up a notch as you fall into these almost three dimensional abstractions. The central element in most of the paintings is the vanishing point from which the landscape emanates. A cave, a mountain range, a wooded area off in the distance, a body of water, perhaps a hint of civilization. These landscapes are inherently formed to throw the viewer off balance, to ask why this space, why this vision, why this memory?
Laura Horne-Gaul: Your works evolve from your travels, can you highlight some of the most influential places?
Linda Martinello: My drawings, paintings and collages are composites of observations and memory based on geographic and geological details encountered in travels. Some of most influential places visited was during my MFA thesis research; three weeks of travel across The Four Corners, the quadripoint in the Southwestern United States where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. Travel in this area was focused on UNESCO World Heritage Sites that include Canyon de Chelly, Chaco, Mesa Verde, and Gila Wilderness. These lands hold thousands of archaeological sites and hundreds of cliff dwellings inhabited between 600 to 1300 AD. The United States acquired the four corners region from Mexico after the end of the Mexican–American War in 1848, controversial borders of man-made lines and state immigration issues continue.
The most current influential travel formed my new body of work; geological formations of cenotes across the Yucatán peninsula in Southeastern Mexico. With no surface rivers or streams on this low landscape, cenotes (sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater and subterranean rivers) were the only source of fresh water for the ancient Maya civilization. They considered them sacred, believing cenotes to be portals to the underworld and a way to communicate with the gods. This new work continues my research into the links between history and geography, and its political involvement with space, place and landscape.
LHG: Do you use any materials other than mylar, have you experimented with anything else?
LM: I started experimenting with mylar as a flexible drawing surface when I was an undergraduate student but it really wasn't until 2006 that I began using it almost exclusively. That year I returned to Toronto from nine months in Florence Italy and one of my brothers, who just graduated from architecture school, gave me his left-over roll of mylar. I started cutting up 8.5"x11" sheets and began making drawings based on those months of travels in Italy, France and Ireland. Today, I still begin a new series with several 8.5" x 11" study drawings.
LHG: Do you foresee any transitions in your subject matter in the future?
LM: My subject matter is continually in transition as it is based on travel. The travel in my work is focused on my own history and the larger histories of the landscape space. I believe I'll always be interested in researching new and ancient environments.
LHG: May you share a few of your top influential artists with us?
LM: For a range of reasons I've been most influenced by the following artists: Denyse Thomasos who had a major impact on my thinking and practice process during my internship with her in New York. In my MFA years, Susanna Heller, John Brown, Janet Cardiff, Julie Mehretu, Kara Walker, Ana Mendieta, James Turrell, Agnes Martin, Walter De Maria, Eva Hesse, Susan Hiller, Adrian Piper, Mona Hatoum, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Frida Kahlo, Gauguin, Cezanne, Klee, Monet, Kirchner, Turner, Whistler and Delacroix.
LHG: What is your favorite book? Why?
LM: I don't have a favorite book but right now I'm really enjoying reading 'Walking and Mapping: Artists as Cartographers' by Karen O'Rourke. The book includes a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. Many work with scientists, designers, and engineers. It covers the close study of selected projects with a broader view of their place in a bigger picture as it describes 'mapping' as complex phenomena.