This autumn, prepare for a nostalgic look back at the golden years of vinyl and enjoy a wry vision of urban London life from the acclaimed British painter-printmaker, Martin Grover, as he launches his second major solo show with For Arts Sake.
Sparked by a lifelong passion for collecting old '45s, Martin’s bold and evocative 'flat still life' screen prints and acrylic paintings of paper record sleeves lend the iconic designs of labels from Motown to Decca and Stax a patina and a halcyon glow – a lament to a music, and a time, past.
In other pieces, he presents an emotional illustrative response to the lyrics of such songs as Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman, Debris by Faces and The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset. These songs are short stories, richly poetic and beautifully melancholic, capturing in a few verses an essence of the human condition, what it is to be living and loving in the modern world. They and Martin’s responses to them are simple, profound and perfect.
"The songs I choose are very descriptive so interpreting them is relatively easy, but it’s trying to distil the emotion of the song into one image that is the key. I suppose the songs all have an element of loss and an inherent sadness to them, which has often been the default setting of much of my work over the years," he says.
Citing 60s/70s soul, country, bluegrass, Americana and folk among his eclectic musical tastes Martin also credits his particular love of Northern Soul to his good friend, fellow artist and printmaker Rob Ryan: "When we were at Trent Polytechnic in the early 1980s I was introduced to Northern Soul by Rob. I found the emotional impact of the music quite exhilarating and still do," he recalls. "Also, I found that I really liked dancing!"
He adds: "I have always used music as an inspiration for my art. As a teenager, I copied album covers on to my bedroom wall and often did portraits of my favourite artists – at the time the likes of Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, The Who, Van Morrison. Years later, in 2002, I was commissioned to paint four singles in a trompe l’oeil manner. This was to be the start of a series that continues today."
Illustrated Songs & Other Work marks Martin’s return to For Arts Sake following the success of his first solo show with the London gallery in 2014, Whatever Shines Should Be Observed.
Exhibited alongside the music-inspired art is his 'other work' – wry sideways looks at London’s urban scenes, which juxtaposes the mundane with the playful. Streets, bus routes and shop fronts are reimagined as stage sets for the artist’s daydreams, jokes and half-remembered anecdotes.
Pieces include his 3D acrylic on board sculptures of bus stops, such as Buses of Burden, as well as his witty Procrastination Club series and the evocative Waiting for a Train (Brixton Skyline).
The exhibition, Illustrated Songs & Other Work, at For Arts Sake is free to enter with all works available to buy. For more info on Martin, visit martingrover.com.
All images courtesy of For Arts Sake | Copyright © Martin Grover