Patrick Martinez

Los Angeles artist, Patrick Martinez, tells important social truths via neon slogans and mixed-media paintings

Martinez is best known for his punchy, political taglines displayed as neon lights. Phrases like, “NO STRUGGLE / NO PROGRESS,” “FIGHT THE POWER,” and “BLACK OWNED” are written by the artist, as well as borrowed from across literature and hip-hop. Martinez also creates large-scale, mixed-media paintings which incorporate portraiture, abstraction and common objects including ceramic flowers and even full-sized replicas of windows.

Select Achievements
  • Work in collections inc. LACMA, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Crocker Art Museum, the Cornell Fine Art Museum, the Pizzuti Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art, and the Museum of Latin American Art
  • Solo show, Remembering to Forget at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles, 2018
  • Group show, Sidelined, Galerie Lelong, New York, 2018
  • Group show, Fictions, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, 2017
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Patrick Martinez, Paradise Lost, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Tucson Museum of Art.

Having started out as a graffiti artist in LA, Martinez still attributes much of his artistic inspiration to the community aesthetic found in pockets of Los Angeles. The paintings are colourful and roughly textured, often depicting sunny palm trees obscured by layers of paint that resemble the distressed walls of the city. While Martinez uses many different material processes, he consistently questions contemporary power relations throughout his oeuvre.

“I want to get people into galleries and museums. I want to speak to the youth.”

By depicting victims of racist police brutality in his Pee Chee paintings, as well as important black leaders such as Bell Hooks and Malcom X, in Cake paintings, Martinez honours the people who have suffered, sacrificed and fought for a better future.

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Patrick Martinez, Racism Doesn’t Rest During A Pandemic Pee Chee (No Justice No Peace), 2020. Courtesy of the artist.
“In America’s history, only presidents and ‘important’ people would have portraits painted of them. They won’t do that for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. So I want to do it myself.”
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Patrick Martinez, Multicultural vs Western (CTE), 2017. Courtesy of the artist.

There are also cross-cultural references to the artists mixed Filipino, Mexican and Native American heritage which are positioned alongside American iconography, particularly in works such as Multicultural vs Western (CTE) (2017). By doing this, Martinez investigates the effects of patriotism on history and identity, while asking, what does it mean to be ‘American’ today?

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