Weekend Heller: Karel Martens Shows at P!

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This is sadly the final season for Prem Krishnamurthy’s wonderful P! Gallery. But the first of the last shows is a good one: KAREL MARTENS: RECENT WORK (open through Oct. 30). Martens has appeared at P! before, but this is quite different work.


It is the first North American solo exhibition of the renowned Dutch graphic designer, the premiere of a body of work—including his signature letterpress monoprints, an interactive video installation, a modular wall-covering system, and a kinetic clock sculpture—that extend his nearly 60-year experimentation with color, overprinting, patterning and time.

“Building upon Martens’ early kinetic work of the 1960s,” states Krishnamurthy, “a new clock sculpture—composed of three multi-colored disks that rotate according to hours, minutes and seconds—transforms the flow of time into a phenomena of form and color. In contrast, a grid of letterpress monoprints from the past year displays Martens’ intimate engagement with paper and ink. Overprinted with as many as 10 layers on found administrative cards, these unique prints produce surprising and complex visual effects.”


Also on display is Martens’ conceptual wallpaper system. Offset-printed A4 sheets featuring stripes of varying thickness, rendered in different colors, function as analog pixels in a do-it-yourself graphic kit. The show’s final work is an interactive video application that translates the camera’s vision into a custom pattern language. Viewers control the scale and density of the pattern, reflecting Martens’ interest in the open-ended and ongoing process of image-making.

P! is located at 334 Broome St., New York City.

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