David Cohen

Drawings and Paintings by Martin Fuller

Camden Arts Centre, London, 1971
From a review by David Cohen

The current relatively small exhibition of drawings and paintings by Martin Fuller has already been on show in Bristol and Oxford. I for one hope that it won’t die completely when its time at the Camden Arts Centre comes to an end because Fuller’s work has a curious combination of charm and power.

Like any artists currently, he appears to be fascinated by science or rather by his notion of the scientific. There are drawings entitled “No Sound”, ‘No Gravity” and ‘Biological Machine” and there are paintings named ‘Energy” and another “Organic Energy”. But you don’t feel annoyed by this pro-science fad because the substance of the best of Fuller’s work does explore the relationship between things as they are, as common sense, as simple science if you like, tells us they are, and things as they seem to be in our minds, in our dreams, in the fragmentation that takes place in both those inner sanctums. Psychology done visually is another way of putting it.

There is, for example, a series of drawings about underground stations and trains. Fuller stretches what we normally see in an underground station. Alfred Hitchcock once said that he knew perfetly well that every time he shot a train going into a tunnel he was making a Freudian point, but that there was no need to labour the fact as critics wished to. Fuller does not labour the point but illustrates and embellishes it. He makes concrete the subconscious possibilities of an underground station.

Fuller’s concern with the difference between inner and outer reality is underlined by a drawing called ‘The Evidence of Our Senses” in which everything is confused. There is a face somewhere so hidden it looks like a mask and unlike in real life it is impossible to make out anything very distinct.

For the drawings alone it’s an exhibition worth visiting. Unlike many, its claims to some scientific involvement are not a total façade.

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