Arts Project Australia & Leonard Joel Present: Julian Martin: Transformer

Leonard Joel is very excited to produce the fourth catalogue for Arts Project Australia in 2014 as part of its Leonard Joel Series. Julian Martin: Transformer catalogue will accompany the upcoming exhibition of the same name. Curated by Dr Cheryl Daye, the exhibition runs 30 August – 4 October in 2014 at Arts Project Australia, where the catalogue will be available for sale. The catalogue features an essay by Alex Baker, Director Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in the USA, formerly Senior Curator, Contemporary Art the NGV. In addition to the essay, the 48 page full-colour catalogue presents a vivid collection of artworks over a three decade period by acclaimed Melbourne artist Julian Martin.

Leonard Joel is a proud supporter of Arts Project Australia, which celebrates its 40th Anniversary in 2014.


Julian Martin was just three years old when Lou Reed released his classic album Transformer, which explored ideas of otherness and transgression. Coincidentally, but perhaps prophetically, it was also in that year, 1972, when British art historian Roger Cardinal redefined the categories of art criticism with his seminal work Outsider Art. Society was changing. Today it is possible to view the evolution of the work of Julian Martin not just as an individual journey, but how we as a culture have come to appreciate and value art (and life) in all its variations.

123After commencing at Arts Project in the late 1980s, Martin’s early pastel works were mostly monochromatic, featuring both figurative and non-figurative subjects. Shortly after being given a mirror by one of the studio staff, he began his exploration of colour through a series of self-portraits, gradually abstracting and reducing them to the barest of representational detail.  Despite close similarities, each work seems to be a subtle move forward to a new standpoint. Each shows understated but deliberate variations, evidence of a clear and intentional methodology towards a transformed vision which has, over a quarter of a century, covered an extraordinary range of territory.

Martin now draws subjects from mainly photographic and physical sources. These have resulted in some compelling depictions of sportsmen, politicians, celebrities and models – from George W. Bush to Madonna, Michael Schumacher to Marilyn Monroe, as well as radical interpretations of everyday tools and utensils which are imbued with a kind of magical transcendence.

Over many years of viewing art by so-called outsiders, I have noted that it is not uncommon to find certain styles or fascinations replicated by artists who have no knowledge of each other’s work. Separated by social situation, language, and even continents, individual artists can somehow inexplicably produce works so similar that one could almost be forgiven for attributing them to the same creator. But in the case of Julian Martin, I doubt that any such parallels can be found. Unlike many of the noted artists with autism whose work astonishes with dexterous feats of perspective, attention to detail and complex line work, Martin focuses on flat planes, velvety pastel surfaces and subtle use of tone and contrast.

Martin transforms the world as we know it. As a society, when we think about art and artists, we contemplate their form and function, part of which is to provide insight into experience and to evoke a sense of revelation. We are moved to see the world in a different way. As an artist, Julian Martin offers us all this and more. We are led into a new visual realm where the mundane becomes magical and the quotidian, symbolic and elemental. The subject matter of these mysterious forms, colours and depicted objects seems to be existence itself.

Dr. Cheryl Daye, exhibition curator
24 High Street Northcote Victoria 3070 
T: 03 9482 4484   F: 03 9482 1852



30 August 2014 – 4 October 2014

Venue: Arts Project Australia
Opening: 30 August 2014, 3-5pm
Opening Speaker: Rupert Myer AM