Yannick Martin's visual enigma
The French artist's SIGNS OFFF exhibition at INTRO is a real visual enigma. The author uses the original technique of screen printing and the simple form of the signs to create a kind of rebus of 25 unique works, creating a large-scale and immersive installation of them in the size of 150 x 150 cm.
In the words of artist Gredi Assa, this is:
"the new way of behaving - coded signs that the viewer does not always manage to guess at first glance, but over time he recognizes them and therefore finds his way to unraveling the message."
Yannick's curiosity about the possible ways of representing the cube with simple linear forms involved him in exploring numerous combinations that play off the presence of three-dimensional figures on the white sheet. This grew into a constant search for new structures, which he simplified and depicted solely through straight lines. They begin to resemble signs and symbols, even hieroglyphics. To reach the opposite - presentation of these clean, pictograph-like forms in 3D objects through his first sculptures - "Timeless Man" and "Sun Through a Door" in size 160 x 120 cm.
In June, Yanik Martin arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, at the invitation of the VISIONARY Foundation, to create a series of works for a solo exhibition at the INTRO Gallery, part of the Foundation's 2022 creative program, financially supported by the 2021 One-Year Grant of the National Fund " Culture". During his stay in Sofia, Martin successfully interacted and worked together with Bulgarian artists both in the studio of "Zalag Darise", where he created unique wooden sculptures and in "Sito Studio'', where he hand-printed the serigraphs, part of the exhibition.
We talk to Yanik about the process of preparing his SIGNS OFFF exhibition in Sofia and the ideas behind the works in it
At SIGNS OFFF you are developing sculptures for the first time. Are you satisfied with the result? Has this form of expression managed to awaken your inspiration for more projects in this direction?
I am very happy with this experience of special sculpture making. It was the first time that I tried to build some structures out of the signs that I draw and I would love to continue exploring it. I like the idea of taking 2 symbols and putting them together to start telling a story. I would like to do it with even more signs. I believe that It could be even more interesting in terms of the story that it tells, as well as the structure that it creates. Let’s see...
One of your works, "5x5", part of the SIGNS OFFF exhibition, has a rather installation character. Tell us about the inspiration behind it.
I have to say that I was strangled to make this project. I luckily just found what I wanted to make a few days before having the silk prints screen in my hands.
The starting point of this project was that five screens (30cm x 30cm) and one color for each of these screens were given to me. I wanted to make something immersive that could combine all these screens and colors in a composition of 5 prints by 5. This would result in a print of 1m50 x 1m50 and I was very excited by this big-scale silk print but I couldn't figure out how to take advantage of this constraint.
I finally found the density of symbols (4 by screen), and the configuration that could allow these symbols to be well stacked on top of each other (use of a grid). This configuration was referring to the 100 variations that I usually make (10 x 10 signs) and that I showed on “VARIATIONS”. By a simple rotation, printing again and again on the top of each of the 25 silk prints 5 colors each), It was creating the visual immersive composition that I was looking for.
The printed structures and symbols were making complex and colorful layouts that would give me a lot to think about for my next project. It was perfect.
Bulgarian artist Gredi Assa also shared his thoughts, observing this installation hours before the opening of the SIGNS OFFF exhibition on June 23 at INTRO -
"We are finding more and more the use of 'simplified' forms to achieve artist-viewer communication. Our speed and way of life force us to go through art in transit. Only the sign, this simple figure, can make us understand the riddle of what is before us."
Assa was impressed by the artist's intention to exhibit together with the unique prints and the screens through which he made them, showing in his opinion a "creative hygiene" of the author, without pretense to create endlessly new and new works.
The spontaneous expressiveness of the straight line
Extremely logical and strict, Yannick is now increasingly experimenting and exploring his expressive side by exploring more spontaneous forms based on the well-known simple line.
"VARIATIONS" is a compilation of 5 serigraphs, part of his SIGNS OFFF exhibition at INTRO Gallery, Sofia, which traces the evolution of his visual language over the last 3 years. The first serigraphs, for example, are based on the grid, while the later ones show their total exclusion from the compositions, which already have their freedom to be interpreted, remaining three-dimensional in their linearity.
How do you manage to shake off the regular form and bring abstraction to the fore in your latest works? Do you feel challenged?
To bring more abstraction to the signs and symbols that I am recently creating, I kind of try to think less when drawing and try less to imagine what the forms that I am building could represent. I always see what these structures could look like but I try to focus more on their balance in space and their varieties in terms of configurations.
Over the years, you have gained a variety of experience - going through professions such as architect, video producer, and director, ending up as a graphic designer. How did you get into street art and what drew you to the medium?
I was an independent Graphic Designer when the Covid arrived. At this time, I feel like it was not the right moment to contact people for more collaboration and new work. I then had more time for my project and I wanted to bring out of my computer the visual composition that I was drawing. I wanted to see them on another scale too. I then went down to the small courtyard that was at the ground of my apartment and with a friend we made the first mural. The landlord discovered it the next day and he quite liked it. He then asked me to make others. It was quite a good start.
Yannick Martin is a visual artist in the fields of painting, street art, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking. He graduated in architecture, and then successively worked as an architect, director, and graphic designer. He is now developing his visual signature as an independent artist in Europe.
More projects and information about the artist - www.wha-t.com
Yannick Martin's SIGNS OFFF exhibition can be seen at the INTRO Gallery until 29.06. inclusive. The project is organized with the financial support of the National Culture Fund, One-Year Grant 2021, and the Singer-Zahariev Foundation. The project partners are Bogodome, Zalag Darise, and Sito Studio.
Photos in the article and on the cover: Mihaela Draganova