Latinx Artist Fellowship

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Leslie Martinez

Visual artist and painter

Dallas, TX

Leslie Martinez

Instagram @leslie_martinez_studio

Painting and the material substance of paint have held my interest most of my life because the possibilities for invention are so vast. Paint is so full of emotive power that can be felt very deeply in relation to memory, language structures, and theoretical frameworks that can bridge different areas of experience. A big part of my practice is making paints that control the way other paints interact with them. Some will sink, some will hover, some are meant only as body and not color, some are color as thin as vapor with no sense of body. One of my grounding studio statements is that “the work is everything it takes to make itself”. All of the rags used to clean my hands and brushes, for example, harden over time when used paint water is poured over them. To know that I’ve created my own encrypted way of wasting nothing, not even time, is something I’m really proud of.

Leslie Martinez (they/them; b. 1985, McAllen, TX) creates abstract paintings following José Esteban Muñoz’s theory of queerness as an unpromised horizon yet to be reached. Muñoz’s queer theoretical contributions share much in common with aspects of the visionary survival wisdom of the borderlands in which tenacity and imagination spawn creative and uncanny approaches to the creation and modification of objects and space. Through the affective power of scale, ambiguity, and tactility, the work directly engages the theory and structural similarities queerness shares with border crossing/dwelling. Martinez considers the embodied knowledge of boundary permeation, futurity, and bewilderment as forms of ancestral wisdom that generate an evolving blueprint for abstraction. Within Martinez’s experimental methodology, transness and borders play a central role in the way materials fragment and reconstitute meaning. Dust becomes liquid and light is swept away excavating hidden forms in a perpetual striving toward the eradication of tension between image and object.

Leslie received an MFA from Yale University in 2018 and BFA from The Cooper Union in 2008. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at And Now, Dallas, TX (2021, 2020). Martinez is participating in several group shows this summer in New York, L.A., and Mexico City. They are also preparing for 2023 solo exhibitions at the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, TX, Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, CA, and Chapter NY, New York, NY. Martinez has participated in residencies at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas, TX (2020) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ (2019). Leslie Martinez’s work is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX.

Selected Works

A rectangular composition features a swirling textural form composed of yellow, orange and red emerging from a background composed of purple, blue, and gray gradient tones. Below, a vertical form in black and blue tones rises to meet it. Dispersed throughout the composition are brightly-colored fragments in yellow, orange, and red.
Strips of fabric are arranged at a diagonal and are covered in paint, ash, and charcoal. The image features a dark form in brown and black tones with a colorful line at its center and yellow, pink, and orange accents at its edges. Beneath, the composition shifts to purple, blue, and gray gradient tones.
Fragmented textural forms composed of yellow, orange and red emerge from a background composed of purple, blue, and gray gradient tones. The fragmented forms are layered on top of the canvas, creating a topographic effect.