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Martin Whatson: Color and Contrast

Martin, it has been way too long since we last caught up. Whenever I see your work, a smile comes across my face as I always love the use of color in your work. I love the way you blend the different color palettes together in your pieces. Was that always your method of painting? If so, what drew you to balancing the two within one medium?

I have studied both art and design, so color theory and composition is important to me, the colors are not chosen by chance, I try to balance them as to get an expression that's pleasing to the eye. It has been an ongoing progression since my days doing graffiti in the 2000’s.

Do you have a favorite subject matter to paint? If not, is there anything you want to paint but haven't yet?

I don't really have a favorite subject matter, but recently I’ve found an interest in antiques and especially old statues. So a nice, full size marble statue would be a great thing to paint directly on. The contrast between the pure soft white and the strong colorful tags really intrigues me.

What are you mediums of choice? Any specific color palette you use more often than others? Any mediums you find particularly challenging to work with?

After only doing stencils for many years, I got a bit bored of the same process over and over again, so I decided to get my hands more dirty. I started doing rough backgrounds behind, and graffiti on top of my stencil works. To me it added another dimension to my stencils which I before found very graphic! I have also explored sculptures and traditional painting more the last year and this is something I both want and need to work more with.

Abstraction is another direction I want to try more, but I need to move towards it when it comes naturally. Abstraction has to come from somewhere and have a reason behind it, something that just doesn't happen overnight.

Usually I work with grey backgrounds, this is trying to replicate a weathered concrete wall that then had some work added, for then to be tagged, and maybe even painted over again. Again, the stark contrasts between the grey and the colors to me is something I love to work with!

I know you have collaborated yet again with the ever so lovely Sandra Chevrier - how did that come about? What other artists have you collaborated with?

Thanks!!! I have known Sandra for a few years now. After first being shown her work at Reed Projects Gallery here in Norway I contacted her to say that I liked her work.

We have been in touch since, and after meeting her in NuArt in 2013, we decided it was time to do a collaboration as we figured our styles work very well together! I really enjoy doing these collaborations, but I dont want to force them. So I’m trying to only work with my friends and people who I have met several times around the world!

For me the collaborations are fun and a nice way of building bridges across the art world!

I have done collaborations with a lot of great people and artists. Among them my fellow Norwegians, Dot Dot Dot, BOT and HaMa Woods who I share my studio with. My Thai friends Alex Face, Mue Bon and Beejoir, Snik in the UK, Ernest Zacharevic, Nafir from Iran and Roamcouch from Japan. I'm also playing with the idea of doing a group solo show with more of my artist friends!!

What is next for you? Any upcoming gallery shows?

After my recent show here in Oslo I actually haven't got any big plans for 2018.

My second son is due in February, so I have to stay closer to home for a while! But I want to do more outside work, and I have some project plans here in Norway.

If our readers want to learn more about your work, where can they go?

Instagram would be the best platform to follow for day to day updates (@martinwhatson), but for a more complete selection of my works, show lists and bio’s- I would check out my website,

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