Exhibition | Martin Langford, ‘This Is Us’
Printmaker Martin Langford’s works mix sardonic cartoonishness with powerful social commentary and jaw-droppingly intricate mastery of the etching process
From comic strip-style skits on the drudgery of daily life to dark labyrinthine worlds exposing humanity’s foibles, British artist Martin Langford’s etchings are a masterclass in wit, style and technique.
In a major solo show this autumn, ‘This Is Us’, Martin returns to For Arts Sake with a wealth of new works taking a blackly humorous look at the way we, as a society, are architects of our own existential crises.
Recurring themes include the monolithic, looming creature forged from heavy industry, hard architecture and accumulated junk, as seen in ‘London’, ‘Disaster’ (below) and ‘Epilogue’ (below, bottom). Inspired by disaster movies of old – Godzilla, King Kong – these images satirise our obsessions with consumption, consumerism and cash-fuelled Big City expansion.
In works such as ‘Stuff’ (below) and ‘Regret’, our domestic lives are lampooned as bleak cartoons of victimhood, while the farcical machinations of the 9-5 are parodied in ‘Handshake’ and ‘Management’ (below, middle)… not to mention the unforgettable ‘I Am Going for a Poo’.
Meanwhile the relentless decimation of our natural environment is exposed in quietly blistering pieces from ‘Ghost’ (below, bottom) to ‘Industree’ (foot of page). There is hope, too, though – the flourishing of green shoots in spite of the desolation – in ‘Epilogue’, for instance, or ‘Persistence’.
Says Martin: “My work tends to focus on the environment, the evolution of man and his material wealth, the development of bigger and bigger cities, more and more people, cars and industry on the planet and the consequences this has on nature. Some reviews have labelled my work as ´black humour´ but I always try to depict a positive message too – the persistence of nature in recapturing what once belonged to the earth.”
He adds: “‘This Is Us’ is about how we have collectively as a society ‘created’ what we have now. The large creatures I draw – whether they are made from buildings, industry, cities or the junk we throw out – these represent ‘us’; a manifestation of our actions.”
A member of the prestigious Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Martin studied under the renowned David Glück on the Advanced Printmaking MA at Central St Martin’s. He was drawn early on to the graphic black and white quality of etching, and cites among his inspirations the late comic book author Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb, Georges Seurat and M.C. Escher.
Martin has exhibited widely and internationally, including in New York, Chicago, Washington and Taiwan. We are proud to say we have been exhibiting his work now for more than 20 years, since his graduation in 1995, and are excited to be able to showcase the thrilling breadth of his newest work in this large-scale show this autumn.
Martin Langford, ‘This Is Us’, September 21 – October 14 (Private View Thursday 20 September), free entry, For Arts Sake, 45 Bond Street, Ealing, W5 5AS, Mon-Fri, 10am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-5pm. *WIN* one of Martin’s newest framed etchings, worth more than £400, here.