Monday, February 08, 2010

Interview: Martin J. Kuntz

Opening this weekend:

"Go To Your Room"
New work by Martin J. Kuntz

Friday, February 12, 2010
Opening Reception: 5:00pm - 10:00pm

at Invoke Studio
970 Fort Wayne Avenue, Suite C.
Indianapolis, IN

An Interview with Martin J. Kuntz
January 13, 2010
The Lockerbie Pub

Interview conducted and submitted by Robert Evans III

Robert: Sitting here at the Lockerbie Pub with artist Martin J.  Kuntz, getting ready for Martin’s second solo show in Indianapolis, Feb, 12th 5pm at Invoke Studio, presented by Vergence Incorporated (VI). The show is called “Go To Your Room.”  So Martin, tell us about your work.

 Martin: My work predominately deals with themes from my childhood. Growing up with a somewhat turbulent upbringing, art functioned as a way for me to escape and create my own worlds.

Robert: Where did you grow up?

Martin: I was born in the Netherlands, but grew up in Indy. I stayed here until I left for college – Maryland Institute of College of Art where I was lucky enough to get a decent scholarship. I graduated Dec 2008.

Robert: One of the things I love about your work and why I have been so excited to show it is that it has a very modern iconographical basis. It deals with a lot of the imagery that people in our age group, between 25 and 35, looked at for inspiration when we were young.

The other is a very robust masculinity in your paintings. I think that is really different from a lot of contemporary art. Feminism is taught in schools and easily integrated into art where masculinity is somewhat negated. Typically, the robust alpha male icon that you use is something contemporary artists look at as a negative, oppressive symbol. It holds the weight of colonialism and sexuality. You take a different approach to it.

Martin: Pop culture for me – whether it was video games, comic books, or television – was just another means of escape. The title of the upcoming show, “Go To Your Room” relates to being put on “time out.” Being in my room all the time was both a punishment and an escape for me. I had to make due with what I had.

In college, I began with a lot of classical themes, figurative work, interior spaces; but I soon got bored with it. I had to ask myself what I originally enjoyed about art, so I went back to my roots. It was looking at comic books, video games, and it was what was most fun for me about making art. Trying to draw superheros and such. It was a way to reconcile my childhood, but it was also fun.

My dad was gone by the time I was about 7, so the work deals with trying to find masculinity in those pop cultures icons. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terminator comes up a lot in my work.  In Terminator 2, he serves as a surrogate father. You have this kid from a bad up-bringing, and this hero father figure comes in to save him, giving him purpose.

Robert: There is a dichotomy between your working with childhood themes and icons., it is both turbulent and playful. How do you think you communicate the depth of the message to your audience?

Martin: Well, my work is so personal to me. I think a lot of chaos comes through in disparate imagery, combining very flat areas of shape and color. Looking at masculinity and pop culture and trying to figure out what you are supposed to be as a man when you grow up. A lot of it deals with the physical aspect of masculinity vs. what it means to be a man.

I touch base on the physical attributes of comic books. The deeper meaning is showing how I had to figure it out for myself.  Having my mom try to be a mom and a dad.  She never dated anyone so you’re on your own, and the things I was given to figure it out go into my paintings. There are not always positives to the physical aspect of life: it does not always teach you about morals or what to do with the physical stuff. My father was physically and verbally abusive, so going to my room was better than some of the consequences I could have gotten.

Robert: So would you say your work creates a place of solitude?

Martin: No, I would not say that at all.  Much of it strives to create a visual cacophony – a lot of things coming at you at once.  A lot of times it’s hard to decipher what is important. Occasionally, there is some aggression.

The painting, “Every Other Weekend” is about having to go to my dad’s every other weekend. On one side, there is my face, and the other is a gorilla representing my father. I use animals to personify human aggression and vibrant colors to create dissidence.

Robert: The work is also really big, so you are confronted by color, shape and icon.

Martin: I like to work really big also. No smaller than 4feet by 4 feet and above.

Robert: I wonder with the changes in culture now, cartoons and pop culture have changed since we were kids.  I wonder what types of imagery and personal subjects you think you will look to in the future. How do you think they have changed for you and will change in the future?

Martin: I hunt on the Internet a lot. I don’t think I have extrapolated everything form my childhood, but eventually I think I will come to a point where I am talking about what is going on now as an adult man.

Painting childhood as a theme and making art as an adult, there is something everyone can relate to. There is simplicity in childhood, but there are just as many messages that can be conveyed in talking about childhood as in adult life. I have a lot of fun making work, and I don’t think it would be as much fun working with adult ideas.

7 Responses to “Interview: Martin J. Kuntz”

Anonymous said...
February 8, 2010 at 10:25 PM

(In Seinfeld voice:)

Whats the deal with this generation and nostalgia for old cartoons?!? I mean, can't we get some subject matter that doesn't involve TMNT?
Jesus! The past is gone, move on kid.

Anonymous said...
February 10, 2010 at 12:54 AM This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2010 at 3:32 PM

From the photo he clearly has painting skills. But.. I am so sick of this recycled content. every new age young hipster artist fresh from art school is going with 1. the 'visual cacophony' and juxtaposition, and 2. childhood images and kid like color and shape choices, striving for a sort of playfulness. Even more so i am sick of everyone finding this type of harmless anti-conformity 'cool' (Haha aren't i such a free-spirited youthful playful artist drawing fine renditions of previously finely rendered comic book characters and toys) i also find it discomforting how personal this work is, and question whether or not it should be hanging in a gallery.

in short, i really am quite sick of all this new age faux art. yes, its fun, vibrant, and i must seem a Scrouge to rant about it, but its over-doing and frankly the laziness of it all bug me.

Anonymous said...
February 12, 2010 at 3:35 PM

and oh! wouldnt you know the new artist with the typical empty work is wearing his part! the cardigan and hat really bring the two together.

and the bare-footedness.

Lori said...
February 14, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Geez, bitter much?

The phrase "new age young hipster", I believe, makes it seem like you're the one struggling with nostalgia.

PS. Who doesn't like TMNT?

Erin K Drew said...
March 4, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Note to the old guard: Kuntz has the blades AND the grades! good to see exposure on an Indy artist who doesn't seem to have gotten much coverage. Saw one of his paintings (Figment) at Old PS 30 and have been intrigued ever since. Does this dude have any other internet presence?

Party Marty said...
August 12, 2010 at 11:46 PM

new work is on the way, and it's just as free-spirited, new aged, vibrant, faux-art as ever! I love what I do.


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