Ecstasy at Honey Sharp

On January 9, 1979 by Irena Martens

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Art Review-1979
Winifred Bell

I was impressed with Irena Martens’ relief sculpture last year; this year I am ecstatic.

Her total production since last summer consists of just five works: each more imaginative than the one before. Each is a life size female figure cut from smoothly finished pieces of plywood that fit together like clothing patterns. Martens’ head is obviously filled with an encyclopedia of art history. She plucks imagery from myriad sources and adapts it to her own unique needs.

Irena Martens:Sculpture " The Juggler"   In one work, “Beauty and the Beast,” vivid multi-red patterns with gold overlays in the sleek gown (which could have been created by the Art Nouveau painter
Gustav Klimt) are combined with an Egyptian  style collar and headdress .The mournful face with huge eyes was  obviously inspired by a late Egyptian –early roman mummy case portrait. The lady’s forehead is adorned with a floer, and one of her cast human hands  holds a chain to which an animated dog is attached. He is painted flatly in bright semi gloss red and his single front view eye in his profile face has its traditions in ancient Egypt and 20th Century Picasso.

Sculpture "Dog licking hand"   Each of martens’ pieces in this exhibition is different in mood. “Juggler” has a pet cat draped around her shoulders Irena Martens:Sculpture "Egyptien Lady with dog"which has whimsically caught one of the flying balls in its mouth. The cat glances surreptitiously at his it’s mistress, whose face is tense with concentration.

   “Roswitha” is a gentle hooded lady whose dog licks her fingers.

Like all of the works in this show, she was executed  with precision and numerous small, surprise details.

    Martens’ work combines the fascination of fairy tales with intricate imagery and meticulous craftsmanship. Pure Delight !



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