A young British artist, Mr. Martin paints by covering largish surfaces of stainless steel, aluminum and plexiglass with (usually) a single color of oil paint; he then pulls a fine, sometimes specially made comblike tool across the wet paint, creating striations that move up and down according to various intervals and rhythms.
The electric-blue glide of ”Patrol” wavers only slightly but nervously and consistently, like the results of lie-detector tests taken by the guiltless or dozens of flat-lining heart monitors. The marigold yellow surfaces of ”Cha-Cha” and ”Samba” have a lot of wave action; their wide undulations gleam, as if three or four spotlights were situated just above, or below, them. Elsewhere, as in the burgundy ”Boudoir,” the surface ripples, like a curtain. And occasionally the raking tool is lifted and the surface broken, creating dramatic fissures of fringed paint.
The artists brought to mind by Mr. Martin’s no-hands technique and glistening effects include Jackson Pollock and Robert Ryman, Alan Charlton, Bridget Riley and David Budd, an American painter whose monochrome surfaces accrue in small palette-knifed, light-deflecting strokes, as well as contemporary painters like James Hyde.
But mostly one comes away with a sense of sensational, tacky retro-chic, as suggested by titles like ”Stripsearch,” ”Harlot” and ”Slapjack” and corroborated by the slickness of the paintings themselves. The problem seems to be one of taste. Mr. Martin needs to raise his sights higher so that his paintings can transcend the gimmicky mechanics of their own making. At this point they actually do seem to have been made by machines and have the brief dazzle of a Slinky toy making its way down the stairs.
Roberta Smith, The New York Times