Rowena Martinich is an abstract expressionist with a difference. While her work is sometimes displayed within the white pristine space of the art gallery, it is more likely to be found in the spaces of the everyday – the shop, the train, the school, the office, the café. These are often paradoxical spaces. Seen but never noticed. Not worth a second glance until revealed as if for the first time by an intervention of some kind.
Martinich seeks to liberate the intimate process of the ‘personal gesture’ from the rarefied interior space of the art gallery while retaining the spontaneity and individuality of primal mark-making in the agora of public space.
Using a combination of commercial fluorescent paint and transparent film inserted into buildings or sites notable for their generous use of glass, her work transforms often architecturally austere structures into riotous cathedrals of colour.
These cacophonies of colour sometimes introduce a witty counterpoint to the structure’s original intentions and to the often-rigorous sensibilities of twentieth century architecture or industrial design without interfering with the structure’s intended functionality or everyday usage.
Martinich’s practice blurs the boundaries between the so-called high art of Greenbergian formalism, art as public spectacle, and the edgy rebellious street art of the spray-can artist, the graffitist and the tagger.