Is essentially on his own that Frédéric Martos has developed a flawless technique in conformity with time-honoured traditions: oil on canvas. He finds his themes in the world that surrounds him. Key words are speed, communication, globalisation as well as estrangement, mediatisation, physical and psychological violence.
Martos' starting point is not the theoretical framework but an existential experience. This inner climate is simultaneously evoked, fixed and transferred in the work of art. He is not looking for ready-made formulas. His paintings do not need a verbal story. He communicates graphically. He expresses this battered life feeling, this injured tenderness by giving a very personal character to his figures. They are naked and bald, their faces are devoid of emotion, and they have no eyes. Often they are depicted with present-day attributes: a bar code, the figures on a clock, a cellular phone. He paints all these elements in his personal style, painstakingly precise, the figures generally set against a monochrome background. If I have to place his work in an art historical context, I would refer to the Italian metaphysicist De Chirico and the Belgian surrealist Magritte in his series of paintings "Empire of Light".
In the work of Frédéric Martos, the figurative presentation remains the bearer of meanings. Content, life feeling and formal elements, the aspect related to the art of painting, go hand in hand. The modern language of images and forms gives shape to a critical vision where "la condition humaine" continues to occupy centre stage. He uses all his technical know-how - regardless of the dimensions of his paintings - to crystallise that vision in an efficient way.
ERNEST VAN BUYNDER
President of MUHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp)