Surrealism and Ceramics

On August 11, 1977 by Irena Martens

The Berkshire EagleTheBerkshireEagle 1
Art review – Winifred Bell
“Surrealism and ceramics”

Irena Martens deals in the stylized human form executed in wood and embellished with oval shaped white plaster faces that come straight out of the early Italian Renaissance.

  These life-size figures are as rigid as architectural columns. Their frontal attitudes are a composite of the beginnings of  many cultural periods; both sophisticated and primitive. They are finished with mystic symbols, meticulously and skillfully achieved.

  LadyinArmorcloseupFor example, “Lady in Armor” is covered in neatly scalloped sheets of bronze, mermaid fashion. A basket mask is hinged onto her expressionless pale face and connected to it are a number of raffia ribbons or strings. At the end of each is a tiny graceful bronze hand which rests comfortably somewhere on her metal chest. The hands and their connections form a looping decorative pattern which the lady wears like jewelry.

  In many of Marten’s works,, the wood armature is composed of curved pieces that  fit together as a jigsaw puzzle and are carefully sanded so that the natural grain and color  is  apparent. “Lady of Feathers” reminds  me of the magnificent capes the Hawaiians created for their royalty, in which they turned the intricate patterns found in plumage into beautiful geometric arrangements.LadyinArmor


 IMG copy In view of Marten’s biographical information – she was born in Germany and studied throughout Europe- it is not likely that our most western state  had an influence; nevertheless, she arrived at similar imagery.

  Martens changes her idiom somewhat in the figure titled “Cabaret.” A small-headed, huge shouldered man with deep set dark eyes holds a black crow in his hand. He is clothed almost entirely in shimmering buttons. He forbodes evil or perhaps he is meant to combat it.


There are also several smaller pieces  on display. “Doll Mother” with commercial baby bottle nipples in the correct  anatomical  locations and “The Leer” with an unbelievable smile are particularly interesting.

SculptureRoswithaSoft Sculpture Pupazzo6Sculpture1978




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