Artist: Martin Whatson
Title: One Small Step
Medium: Original Acrylic and Spray paint on Canvas
Size: 52 x 52 Inches
Notes: Hand Signed and Dated on Verso.
Martin Whatson, born in 1984, is a renowned Norwegian street artist celebrated for his distinctive style characterized by calligraphic scribbles set within grayscale voids. Over the past decade, Martin has crafted an unmistakable artistic aesthetic that seamlessly blends abstract motion with figurative stenciled compositions. His works serve as a visual metaphor for the ebb and flow of urban life, symbolically recreating the cityscape only to then 'vandalize' it with his vibrant transformations.
Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Martin emerged as an active participant in the burgeoning graffiti scene of the early 1990s—a period marked by a stringent zero-tolerance stance on street art. The physical tapestry of the city served as an enduring wellspring of inspiration, with each generation's elaboration and deconstruction of urban spaces contributing to the city's ever-evolving infrastructure. This parallel between creative influences and the cityscape's organic evolution is evident in his work, inspired by artists like Jose Parla and Cy Twombly.
In the early 2000s, Martin's fascination with layers took on a more literal form with the introduction of stencils into his repertoire. This evolution brought him closer to an aesthetic that he believed could harmoniously marry the passion and spontaneity of graffiti with the delicate and transient qualities of nature—an equilibrium that came to define his artistic approach.
With an equal presence on both walls and traditional canvases, Martin's art consistently explores the intersection of vulnerability and strength. His compositions often feature delicate and organic subjects, including butterflies, ballerinas, and animals, all set against empty grayscale backgrounds. These minimalist figures are constructed using a few meticulously hand-cut stencils. The monochromatic tones and vacant spaces of his creations pay homage to the artist's alternative canvases—the concrete jungle itself. True to his signature style, no grayscale space remains untouched in Martin's presence. Whether immersing entirely or accentuating a specific detail, these images soon vanish beneath expressive layers of spray-painted strokes, bursting with a medley of colors and textures.
Martin's work has left an indelible mark on festivals, collaborative projects, and urban walls across the globe. His original artworks grace private collections and institutional holdings, while solo exhibitions have taken center stage in cities spanning from Tokyo to Los Angeles and London to New York.