Curated by Marisa Caichiolo


Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, unfortunately the original April 18 opening reception has been postponed. BBAX will keep you closely informed on the new exhibition and opening reception dates. Please check back!

The work of J J Martín holds a close relationship with his life and place of origin, although he may not be fully aware of this. Latent narrative bonds are established in between the regime of surfaces and the enormous man behind them.

Among his personal and artistic considerations prevails the idea of managing humbleness and gratitude as the guiding principles of any personal narrative and of any humanistic feature. The Role Models series is, precisely, a manifest act of admiration and respect. Admiration to those personalities, female and male, whose intellectual, literary, scientific, human, political and artistic works have made a great contribution to contemporary thought and culture.


Role Models is a baroque essay. It is so in its conceptual prefiguration and in the ambiguity of its appearance. In it the eclipsing power of yellow and gold is colonized. The favorite colors within the palette of Latin American Baroque and within its expansive dimension. This element, consciously or not, fables a symbolic connection, once again, with the place of origin. Vast could be the analytical perspective for this particular, but it is not a question here of noticing each and every one of the exegetical variants regarding these surfaces. Rather, I am interested in underlining that ambiguous dimension and that stylistic digression as a resource to provoke amazement and bewilderment. Access to these models in the new catwalk of mediatic profitability generates, among other feelings, a spirit of questioning: why? To what do we owe this variable and this insertion of such personalities, altering their usual attire, in the symbolic space of a fashion catwalk?


I find no better way to answer these questions than by appealing to the artist's confessions. The latter, in an act of expansive dialogue, commented to me “for this series I tried to be as minimalist as possible, because I believe that, to do good, you simply must have desire and courage to do it. Only thus, without complications, without the fictitious assistance of any special training. Just wanting, simply and clearly, wanting to do good”. And he is quick to make it clear that this series, far from any playful or equivocal approach, seeks to “pay tribute to these personalities, elevating them, exalting their appearance by contemporary codes. That is why I practice an alteration in their outfits by dressing them up - respectfully - as the role models that they are, have been and will continue to be. Closer to the idols of masses or to heroes of comics and film noir.”


Regarding that conceptual dimension that emerges behind (and above) each aesthetic fact, we can never lose sight of the fact that all meaningful practice has multiple intentions. The artist points out that “with this series I have been able to recapitulate and realize that all my life I have been concerned with the situations of injustice that many peoples live in the world. I remember as a child being obsessed with world peace. In my childhood, looking back, I discover that this theme has always been in my thoughts. Since then it has been impossible for me to understand the injustices that man commits on man and his environment. It is for this reason that the series begins in the depths of my subconscious and materializes little by little, until it comes out and is reflected on the canvas.”


It is clear that, in the textual and psychological depth of these works, there is a powerful feeling of gratitude. A need for approval, recognition and rescue. A way, if you will, to face the amnesia of contemporary world generated by a machinery that seeks to forget in order to continue destroying. So much so that JJ Martín affirms “with this series I pay tribute to the people who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in La Paz, because for me they are beings who, although they are human like everyone else, have known how to do everything in their power, going even beyond what is or has been in their hands in order to fight for the common well-being of people, raising banners of justice against the injustice suffered by others.” Role Models, without doubt, is “a way of silently (and also frontally) shouting at the viewer of my works, that the world is in chaos, but that if we want we can make the change, if we want we can live in a better world for all. It is also a way of bringing hope, of saying that hope is within each one of us, we just have to make the decision to transform hope in a battlefield that will allow us to build a better world.


All this work, like that of many Latin American artists installed today in spaces of power and legitimacy, is able to dimension -through metaphor - the seriousness of the problems that reach us and worry the majority. Devoid of great boasts, anecdotal emphasis or eschatological screams, so usual in contemporary art scene, these pieces by the Mexican artist seek to point out the origin of evil by the weighting and exaltation of beauty, by the most authentic and genuine exercise of admiration.

- Andrés Isaac Santana, Art Critic & Writer