Martial Molitor works to capture the energy latent in people. He strives to bare the desires and secret longings of the human soul, particularly those confronted with the conflicts, potential joys, and all-too often miseries of daily life. His subjects are very important, and he chooses to paint them fully loaded with dynamic forces, desires and conflicts. His subjects emanate a ferocity and tenderness, a feeling akin to the lyrics and wailing guitar riffs often heard in the blues. This desire for something more hums loudly even when the subjects appear to be trapped by symmetrical lines and curved spaces all around them. When observing Molitor’s work, one sees such a dramatic energy within his subjects, such dynamic power in his use of vivid contrasting color, the subjects seem to have a presence much larger and deeper that what appears on the canvas. They become so alive with their desires and conflicts that they seem to have captured the artist just when he thought he was capturing them.
Molitor’s use of bright colors often in contrast with somber tones, suggests a conflict between what might be and what is. He strives to create an imaginary world that will awaken sensitivity in those viewing his work where the subjects, sometimes vital, sometimes despairing, seem too long to be bigger than the spaces contain them. They want to be beyond where they are.
In viewing Molitor’s work, one is struck immediately by the dramatic and visceral use of color. The reds in particular are so saturated they seem almost like a fresh and open wounds—then again, the red inhabits so much space on the canvas, there's a kind of familiar comfort there. His use of blues are hypnotic, rendering a feeling of a dream state, a deep private world of imagination and feeling that akin to an opium-like haze that softens the gaze, pulls his subjects—as well as the viewer—from the conventional world into a private place of dreams and longings and imagination.
Molitor’s figures are often set against a curving space, as in “Glance,” where a figure huddles in a chair, deep in his private pain or loneliness, and set against a wall of repeated vertical lines of somber yellows and greens. His tiny chair rests on a floor that provides a curved space of red, which both suggests and allows movement, but the eye moves only over and down into that stable place of red where a sad and shadowing organic form conveys that the subject’s feelings loom and will most likely grow.
Painting for Molitor is a vehicle that allows him to express his deep and often conflicted feelings about the world. The mood of his subjects offers a fierce and tender vision of the world where staggering heartbreak is possible, as well as the potential for transformative tenderness. A careful study of his work will at first likely strike a deep empathetic chord in the viewer as we see so often figures trapped in their private thoughts and longings, but the figures are anything but static, even when they seem to be trapped. They all thrive with latent energy and possibility, suggesting that no matter what subject is being conveyed on the canvas, they live in a world of constant energy and flux and there is always the possibility of breaking beyond boundaries and change.
By Jane Bradley, Author of You Believers (French translation, Editions du Seuil, Sept Pépins de Grenade )
Martial Molitor - Clin d'Œil
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