Lacquers

Flying Spirit #2 North - Ode to Billy Batman, 1972, lacquer on masonite
48 x 48 inches/122 x 122 cm 
Collection of San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA



This series of paintings began in 1970 as a group of flying spirits. The subject matter is essentially spiritual: Buddha shapes, mandalas, guardians, heaven above and earth below, and the river as an emblem of time. 

The pieces are made by applying between twenty and thirty layers of lacquer over a relief surface (frequently lace). Each layer of color covers all or part of the previous layer, making a hidden series of paintings one above the other.  The painting is then carefully scraped back until it is complete, and then polished. 

"Rich detail and texture and the durability of the medium give Martin's lacquered works a scale larger than their actual dimensions. Ceremonial, as though a result of many hands, rather than the product of many hours, ...an inherited culture emerges from each piece rather than an idiosyncratic view of isolated experience. An eon of contemplation might have been spent applying each single layer, yet Martin's process results in a multitude of jewel-like shapes that cooperate in serendipitous choreography."

Casey FitzSimons, ArtWeek






Pivotless Pivot, 1972, lacquer on masonite
21 x 21 inches/53 x 53 cm 
Estate of Don Martin





Pivotless Pivotdetail








Flying Spirit #3 West, 1973, lacquer on masonite
48 x 48 inches/122 x 122 cm
Collection of San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA





Flying Spirit #3 West, detail








Boy Mountain, 1979, lacquer on masonite
48 x 36 inches/122 x 91 cm 
Estate of Don Martin





Boy Mountain, detail










They Danced Around, 1975, lacquer on masonite
24 x 48 inches/61 x 122 cm
Estate of Don Martin









Three of Cups, 1977, lacquer on masonite
24 x 24 inches/61 x 61 cm
Private Collection





Three of Cups, detail








One of Cups, 1977, lacquer on masonite
24 x 24 inches/61 x 61 cm
Private Collection










One, 1979, lacquer on masonite
48 x 42 inches/122 x 107 cm 
Collection of San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA





One, detail









Mandala #1, 1983, lacquer on masonite
24 x 24 inches/61 x 61 cm
Private Collection








Mandala #2, 1983, lacquer on masonite
24 x 24 inches/61 x 61 cm
Estate of Don Martin









Mesas, 1984, lacquer on masonite
36 x 36 inches/91 x 91 cm 
Estate of Don Martin








Shadow Warrior (Guardian), 1984, lacquer on masonite
48 x 24 inches/122 x 61 cm
Estate of Don Martin








Dissolution in the Square, 1984, lacquer on masonite
30 x 48 inches/76 x 122 cm
Estate of Don Martin








La Luna, 1984, lacquer on masonite
24 x 24 inches/61 x 61 cm 
Estate of Don Martin







El Sol, 1987, lacquer on masonite
30 x 30 inches/76 x 76 cm
Estate of Don Martin







El Teatro, 1987, lacquer on masonite
43 x 43 inches/109 x 109 cm
Estate of Don Martin







 Flying Spirit #4 - Fire on the Mountain, 1987, lacquer on masonite
48 x 48 inches/122 x 122 cm 
Collection of Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Logan, UT





(photos of art work: Tony Grant © 2017, Rick Pharaoh © 2017, Joan Gilbert Martin)