In the spectrum of play between history and fiction, the work of painter GR Martin is ostensibly on the fictional end. However, the realism of his technique, the quotidian nature of the objects that populate his paintings, and the ambiguity of his scenes, haunt the viewer with questions. Channeling elements of surrealism, fairytale, and Andrew Wyeth, Martin’s paintings often take very domestic, interior-focused scenes and set them in exposed, deserted fields. In both The Door We Never Opened and Morning Bell, the viewer is left adrift, asking what are his (mostly female) characters up to? How did they end up here? Are they free or trapped? What will happen next?
Martin’s scenes appear as staged tableaux, with sets and costumes that are seemingly essential to whatever mysterious tale is being hinted at, but not fully explained. Clouds populate the sky, muting the light and hinting a the possibility of an impending storm. Lodged in a state of limbo, there are a million ways that these stories could have begun and could still end.