?DO GEESE SEE GOD?
This groundbreaking two-part exhibition will occur simultaneously at Saint Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium, home to the world-renowned painting by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, commonly referred to as the Ghent Altarpiece, and at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York. In a unique collaboration, Martin has been granted exclusive access to work in St. Bavo’s, integrating his site-specific artwork into the very fabric of the cathedral. Remarkably, he has even been allowed to insert an art work into the armature of the Ghent Altarpiece itself. In parallel to Martin’s extraordinary access in the cathedral, he will install corresponding works in the front and lower galleries at Sean Kelly, New York. This unique dual exhibition juxtaposes Martin’s work in both a historic Gothic site of worship and a 21st century contemporary art gallery. There will be an opening reception at the gallery on Thursday, March 21, 6 – 8 pm. The artist will be present. The exhibition in Ghent will open to the public Friday, March 22 at 9:00 am.
An early Renaissance masterpiece, The Ghent Altarpiece is inarguably one of history’s most influential artworks. It is also the most stolen. Since its completion in 1432 it has been the target of 13 different crimes; it has been smuggled, censored, ransomed and attacked by iconoclasts. The altarpiece, which is currently undergoing extensive conservation and restoration has, since World-War II, been reconstructed and is on view with the exception of one crucial missing element. The lower left panel, known as The Just Judges, is currently represented by a high-resolution photographic reproduction. For his exhibition, Martin will cover this panel with a mirror, at once inducting the observer as an active participant, while simultaneously implicating the viewer as one of the “just judges.”
This type of gesture is typical in Martin’s lyrical and conceptual practice which engages, amongst many ideas, that of the readymade. Through subtle acts of appropriation and intervention, Martin radically shifts the meaning of an object. He once stated, “I see every piece as an invitation for the viewer to reflect: trying to activate one’s individual thoughts about one’s own life, without having any intention to force one’s thoughts to go in a certain direction.” Throughout the exhibitions there will be a series of objects at once familiar, and uncanny. The duality of mirroring—literally and conceptually—is at the crux of this exhibition: each work on view in Ghent will have its “double” on view at the gallery in New York. Conflating the sacred space of the Cathedral in Ghent with the secular space of the New York Gallery, Martin creates a compelling and subversive group of works infused with humor and wit that continue his ongoing investigation into major questions of human experience and spiritual belief.