28 January to 11 March 2000
Anthony d'Offay Gallery is proud to present Martin Maloney's first solo exhibition at the gallery. These new paintings are formal and informal group portraits. They show everyday relationships in familiar settings. Their vibrant colours, patterns and cheerful mingling of sex, races, and social background borrow a politically correct spirit of 1970s community murals, offering a sense of optimism and hope. Massed groups of figures are posed like a day time t.v. studio audience to stare out at the viewer. Martin Maloney uses the tradition of portraiture to blend art history with popular culture. Like his earlier Genre paintings and Poussin paintings, these new works infuse high-minded art history with the pulse of contemporary life.
Martin Maloney's new paintings examine current notions of masculinity, teen culture and ethnic diversity. Male Bonding portrays the drinking ritual of three professional men; a group of A'level students and their teacher pose after getting their exam results in Equal Opportunities; and three young working class mothers and babies from a range of ethnic backgrounds make up We Are Family. His portraits have a strong emotional impact; the viewer is asked to enjoy the rich sensual colours and the play of space, as well as appreciate the formal qualities of the painterly gesture. The language of abstraction is used to counterbalance the narrative and figurative elements and keep in check the sentimentality of the subject matter.
Martin Maloney, 38, is one of the new breed of artists who writes, curates and talks about art. Graduating in 1993 from Goldsmiths College, Maloney identified a newly emerging group of diverse artists, organising a series of group exhibitions in his Brixton home cum gallery, "Lost in Space" and later in two West End shows, Die Yuppie Scum at Karsten Schubert Gallery and Die Young Stay Pretty at the ICA in 1998 - exhibitions which have been recognised as important landmarks in the rise of the contemporary British art scene. Maloney's work was shown at Sensation, for which he contributed a catalogue essay. This show has also travelled to Berlin and New York. Maloney recently featured in the Saatchi Gallery's exhibition Neurotic Realism in 1999, where he exhibitedthe large-scale Sex Club paintings. Martin Maloney lives and works in London.
"I was thinking of the 17th Century Dutch group portraits and I wanted to work out how that sort of painting would be painted now. I saw contemporary equivalent to those large dark paintings of Regents and Burghers in newspaper photographs of human interest stories. From these pictures of moments of happiness and personal achievement, I have painted the world I have lived in, and people I have known. Mixed Ability is from a picture of inner city school kids surrounding their teacher. I used it to make a painting which celebrates the moment of adolescent rebellion. The kids stare out in defiance. I tried to make a catch-me-if-you-can confident swagger of no hopers adolescent anarchy. I painted kids who customize their uniform with low-slung ties and jewellery in irritation of archaic rules of discipline. My ethnic mix of adolescents in school uniform is painted in a reduced palette of two colours, grey and yellow, bright but monochrome making the background space seem like a cut out far away place." - Martin Maloney