From comic strip-style skits on the drudgery of daily life to dark labyrinthine worlds exposing humanity’s foibles, printmaker Martin Langford’s works mix sardonic cartoonishness with powerful social commentary.
In this major new solo show at For Arts Sake, he takes a blackly humorous look at the way we, collectively as a society, are architects of our own existential crises.
Intricate etchings feature monolithic, looming creatures forged from heavy industry, hard architecture and accumulated junk. Inspired by disaster movies of old – Godzilla, King Kong – they satirise our obsessions with consumption, consumerism and cash-fuelled Big City expansion.
In other works, our work and domestic lives are rendered bleak cartoons of victimhood, while, elsewhere, quietly blistering pieces interrogate the relentless decimation of our natural environment. There is hope, too, though – the flourishing of green shoots amidst, and in spite of, the desolation.
Says Martin: “My work is about the environment, about pollution, the way we live and about man’s collective greed. I think people are tired of being lectured to about ‘green’ issues but they do still care – with a bit of humour, I believe you can relay a message simply and effectively.”
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.