Manhattan, an exhibition of intriguing new photographs by Charles Martin that capture the city’s vibrant energy and discover the poetic mystery in its everyday scenes and sights, is currently being shown at the June Kelly Gallery at 166 Mercer Street. The work will remain on view through March 6.
The photographs result from Martin’s chance encounters with small, fleeting details that exemplify the city, he says, his subjective perceptions that document New York’s daily life. His evocative images are fully realized aesthetic works of art, as in High and Low, 2011, which depicts an idyllic sky with billowing clouds above an aged urban wall scrawled with graffiti and protected by a tangle of barbed wire.
“By day, by night, the city offers harmony and disarray,” says Martin. Always carrying a camera and on the alert, Martin sees subjects easily overlooked by others amid the fragmented life of the city.
Martin’s photographs encourage the viewer to look beyond the physical subject to grasp the obscure intangible forces of motion and energy, the oddities that are the pulse of city life. For example, a large dark bird soars freely through an underground subway tunnel in Train Station, Leaving New York City. In Midtown West, animated streaks of bright light and an elusive blur of imagery are fused together to create a striking enigmatic abstract composition.
Martin’s photographs hint at objective detachment from his subjects, but his discerning eye when shooting and his editing and selection demonstrate his personal sensitivity and artistic awareness. It is apparent that dynamic energy, frenzied motion and spatial disorientation are also Martin’s subjects.
Martin’s sharp perceptiveness and his empathy for both the subject and its context reflect his ability to organize form, space, energy and light into a stunning and artful visual dialogue.
Martin lives and works in New York. He is a graduate of Yale University, where he also received a master’s degree and a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese. He studied photography at the Yale School of Art with Thomas Roma and JoAnn Walters.
Martin’s photographs have been shown in numerous one-person and group exhibitions throughout the United States, in Europe and in Brazil. His work is also included in private and public collections, among them The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of the City of New York, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University and the Walter Heun Collection.