Leslie Martinez, The Decorum of this Body, 2023 / Courtesy Commonwealth and Council / Photo Paul Salveson
Leslie Martinez: The Fault of Formation
Nov 16, 2023 – Apr 8, 2024
MoMA PS1
New York, USA

This fall, MoMA PS1 presents Leslie Martinez’s (b. 1985, McAllen, Texas) first New York museum exhibition. Martinez, who lived in New York City for fifteen years before returning to Texas in 2019, exhibits their largest body of work to date, which features recent paintings and three newly commissioned large-scale artworks. Using a cosmic palette based on the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) color model, the artist sprays and stains canvases with diluted paint, and then folds, pools, and collages materials onto the surface – including rags and dried acrylics. Combining a no-waste approach with methodologies of rasquachismo, a term coined by scholar Tomás Ybarra-Fausto to describe a Chicano “attitude rooted in resourcefulness yet mindful of stance and style,” Martinez wields an embodied way of painting that draws on formal legacies of abstraction, as well as generational practices of survival and sustenance learned from their family. The Fault of Formation includes works that make reference to the earth’s fault lines and shifting tectonic plates, dueling forces that give rise to mountains. Their paintings mirror the fractures wrought by a nation built on binary politics, as well as the hope that can arise from creation born in spite of, and at times from, chaos and confusion. Martinez’s liberatory works offer “a place to spiral and search” through an abstract language that underscores potentiality and becoming.

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