Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, 1968
Guardian Review by Bryn Richards
MARTIN FULLER’S canvases, showing at the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, until September 6, are large, white stages for the presentation of dramatic, organic events which speak of an obsession with adolescent sexuality, sadism, decay, and fear. At first glance they seem innocuous enough; some, such as “Plug” and “Escalating,” focus attention on human heads and reveal a certain skill and pleasure in traditional methods of drawing and painting. The drawings show the evolution of ideas which are modified and enlarged on in the paintings and in some cases reveal a nervous intensity of handling which is in contrast with the bland fluency and directness of the paintings. Colour, again at first glance, is pale pastel and much influenced by the big areas of white ground and the transparency of the thinly brushed pigment. On closer examination things begin to happen and I am reminded those drawings in children’s annuals which are invitations to find various animals and objects concealed in an apparently empty landscape. So in these paintings a wriggly jelly-baby shape becomes a human figure; a grey smudge becomes human buttocks; random red marks become weals. The forms are all meat of one kind or another. The pastel colour can be seen as rancid and the transparency as a form of rot, like a slice of bacon left out too long. One becomes conscious of having to tread warily in a Freudian jungle.
Martin Fuller is reluctant to be drawn into any explanation of his work and feels that the painting should not reveal its meaning too easily but slowly provoke a personal response. I think that perhaps that he is being a little disingenuous in that there is a string element of calculation in his work.