Last year, artist Martin Webb began walking around his neighborhood at night taking dimly lit photographs. He was intrigued by the way that landscapes once familiar to him seemed to transform in the darkness. Without people visibly inhabiting the houses, they began to take on new meaning. Then, he traveled to the Eastern Sierras to seek out abandoned mining towns. Those houses, also empty, were no longer distinct from the natural landscape that surrounded them, and instead were collapsing onto themselves and the landscape organically.
In his new body of work, currently on view at the Compound Gallery (1167 65th St., Oakland) in the show Many Streams, Webb has eliminated all figures from his paintings. Instead, he embarks on a study of houses, exploring the similarities and differences between wild and urban landscapes. Color blocking with a warm, limited pallet, Webb depicts house after house on square wooden panels that line the walls of the gallery. In doing so, he builds a small cluster of structures, each flattened to reveal its core geometric foundation, sometimes with piles of wooden planks sitting in the foreground like colorful ‘X’s drawn on the ground. The buildings are not foreboding yet do not welcome visitors. They simply stand alone.Free
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