Patrick Martinez talks about Paradise Lost
With multiple materials and styles layered on a 10-foot panel, Paradise Lost is a complex work that invites careful examination. Reading the artist’s words about different elements of the piece can help the viewer unpack meaning.
“When I was making this piece I was thinking about pre-Columbian (Ancient American) murals found at the Cacaxtla archeological site in central Mexico. I thought about the beautiful painted figures on the Cacaxtla walls I typically reference through the book The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central Mexico. I wanted to strip the figure from its historical past and place him onto a new wall—perhaps the stucco wall of a liquor store found in Los Angeles.
“This piece explores the breaking down of walls over time that speaks to art history and histories connected to people operating in the current LA landscape.
“When painting the figure, I was thinking about the store owner hiring a local artist to paint this figure on one of the exterior walls of her/his market. As time passes it gets covered in layers of paint because the changing of ownership and graffiti.
“This work also deals with the changing landscape (gentrification) and excavation. I tear through layers of paint with a water pressure washer to expose what was once a layer or moment in time. When composing the piece, I was thinking about a hyper local community aesthetic and labor, time via paint layers, landscape painting, figures in the landscape that speak to the people that occupy the area presently and in the past.
“With the neon and LED signs I wanted to access and use the available visual vocabulary of my city, taking from Salvadorian restaurant light signage I took the palm trees to help build the landscape, mirroring the painted palm trees on the stucco surface.
“The tile found also around LA mimics Mayan jade pieces. Fragmented shades of green jade remind me of the green tile on walls that are replaced with similar shades of greens when broken or defaced.
“The flowers that are in the painting are inspired by memorials that are found in streets all across America—they represent and are indications of trauma and hurt.”