The Proposition is pleased to present our inaugural virtual exhibitions, Vintage Prison Drawings and New Work From Beijing, both highlighting the work of artist Alfredo Martinez. Vintage Prison Drawings will focus on Martinez’ output from 2002-2004 with pieces encapsulating his stint in federal prison after being convicted on charges stemming from his forgings of Basquiat drawings and their corresponding certificates of authenticity, while New Work From Beijing features some of his most recent drawings produced while living in Beijing, China. Both exhibitions are scheduled in conjunction with Martinez’ participation and appearance in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary feature-film, We Live in Public, directed by Ondi Timoner and screening on April 5th, 2009, as the closing film of MoMA’s 2009 New Directors / New Films series.
In December 1999, as a participant in the millennial project, Quiet – an epic event organized and financed by dot-com millionaire Josh Harris involving dozens of artists occupying an underground bunker on lower Broadway, voluntarily subjecting themselves to interrogations and constant surveillance for up to thirty days before FEMA intervened and put an end to the so-called “Millennial-Cult” – Martinez designed a full-size indoor firing range, complete with sound-proofing and furnished with high-powered automatic weapons and a staff of ex-Navy Seals. Now, almost ten years later, Quiet has been documented and condensed into the arc of the story-line encompassing We Live in Public, Ondi Timoner’s film chronicling the trajectory of Josh Harris’ life and obsession with media consumption in the age of the internet.
Alfredo Martinez has often utilized guns and weaponry in his imagery and they remain a primary focal point of many of his drawings/collaged-paper compositions and prints. He has constructed both small and large-scale sculptures out of a wide variety of industrial materials to create guns, including some that are fully functional as a result of his weapons background and experience acquired from years of working with Rick Washburn at Weapons Specialists Limited. This is also evidenced in some of his drawings, which appear as schematic diagrams of guns, offering x-ray views of their inner parts and components.
Martinez’ drawings from prison range from self-portraits and portraits of fellow inmates to political figures, like Saddam Hussein, to guns and weapons, all of which were created by drawing with pencil on hand-collaged paper that he assembled from pages torn from books and various other sources and using prison-issued coffee & fruit punch as watercolor pigments – the only materials made available to him during his sentence. His most recent work from Beijing finds Martinez continuing with his fascination with weapons and includes yet another facet, featuring an increasingly technological bent with a focus on military machines and devices. In these he has incorporated actual cutouts of uniformed officers manning monitors and of robots and machines right alongside his drawings.
Martinez currently resides in Beijing and has been living there since 2007. While in Beijing he has had work exhibited in the group show, Surge, at the Main Exhibition Space in the 798 Art District and he has curated a group show, Dream Palace at A-SPACE. His previous solo exhibition at The Proposition, The United States of America Vs. Alfredo Martinez, featured his work from prison and occurred while he was serving his sentence.
Vintage Prison Drawings