Showtime #3 Martin Abrams


Image:Epson Perfection (Two Fixings), 2011, CMYK screenprint on canvas, 150 x 100 cm (approx)

Showtime is the creative portfolio platform for University of the Arts London. Showtime is the creative portfolio platform for University of the Arts London. Martin studied MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, one of University of the Arts London’s six Colleges, graduating this year.

1 If you weren’t an artist, what else would you be?
If I had the brains I would have worked towards becoming an astrophysicist, and if that failed a grey haired mathematician specialising in geometric topology. Science and abstract maths have always fascinated me.

2 What is your favourite ‘ism’?
I don’t have one, but I think it’s important that an artist be aware of art of the past and how it developed into what it is today, even if they then ignore it.

3 Which artists do you admire and why ?
Any artist who creates work from a position of not knowing completely what they’re trying to achieve, and who are willing to follow the work down whatever rabbit hole it takes them. If I were forced to name some, they would probably be Wade Guyton, Martin Creed, and Walead Beshty.


Image:Untitled (Coyote Gold), 2011, mimaki and screenprint on canvas, 120 x 120 cm

4 What was the most intelligent thing that someone said or wrote about your work?

I will never forget being told by my BA tutor, during a very important assessment, that the random splatters of paint on my shirt were better than the work I had presented for assessment. Little did he or I know at the time this comment would send me on the road to where I am as an artist today. More recently someone told me that my work looked like something you might find on the walls at McDonalds. When I think about it both comments could be taken as harsh criticisms, but they’ve stuck with me and continue to be extremely positive and thought provoking.

5 Do you care what your art costs? State your reasons!

I think regardless of what level an artist prices their work at the most important thing is to respect those who have purchased your work in the past, and so I keep prices at a relatively fixed level, even if it might be easier to lower them for a big show and maybe make a quick buck.

6 What are the three big ideas that you would like your work to express?

This is a difficult one because so much of what I do is trying to side step this idea of ‘me’ as an artist trying to express something to ‘you’ as the audience, I think there’s so much wrong with that way of working. I’d much rather get out of the way altogether and let whatever processes I decide to use do the talking for me. This was
what I was trying to achieve with my ‘chess’ series; I genuinely think that a chess program can create more intriguing works than I ever could.

7 How do you start the process of making work?

A lot of the time a series may start by complete serendipity, I know this is an over- worn phrase that artists like to say a lot, but it’s true.

8. What’s next for you?

As a result of my final show I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to exhibit in a space in Canary Warf, so all my current effort is geared towards making this a truly great show, while also trying to find a way to continue to live and work in London.

9 If you could ask yourself one question what would it be? And what would be the answer ?

I’m continuingly asking myself why I continue to do the things I do, I think it’s quite natural for an artist to do this, self-doubt is always there, and given enough time you can begin to convince yourself that it’s all arbitrary and pointless. But I keep coming back and making work, so there must be something rewarding in it, even if I don’t know what that is.


Image:Apple Mac Chess Program Playing Itself (White Wins), 2011, monoprint on primed polyester, 70 x 70 cm
What is your current favourite piece of work?

If I were forced to choose it would probably be a recent print that recorded a chess computer program playing against itself, and where the white side ended up winning. As a single piece of work it embodies everything I’m trying to achieve in my work as a whole. Saying that it’s also a very cold, unforgiving object, but there’s a strange robotic creativity about it that I find quite fascinating.

See Martin Abrams on Showtime

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad

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