Martin Machado is a visual artist and alumnus of San Francisco Art Institute who has travelled the world on international commercial vessels as a merchant mariner. His work takes the form of drawings, paintings, and photographs that offer a window into this often-overlooked system of global commerce that underpins modern life. Cumulatively, the works in this exhibition illustrate Machado’s time at sea and his deep engagement with the people, places, and historical and cultural complexities of maritime exploration and trade. The exhibition’s title, Fluid State, alludes to the state of flux that defines both a life at sea and the shifting tides of global capitalism.
In the work on view in SFAI—Fort Mason’s Main Gallery, containers from commercial ships have escaped their regimented place in the global supply chain, as with the two sculptures Flotsam and Jetsam, which seem to sink into the gallery floor. Elsewhere, a selection of two-dimensional works appropriates and recontextualizes 18th-century images from the history of maritime exploration, which consistently highlighted the drama and heroism of early explorers as well as the otherness of the people encountered. Machado’s work resists this one-sided, colonialist viewpoint espoused by early explorers, illustrating instead the overlapping narratives and conflicting interests that define a contemporary experience of the world’s oceans. In many of these drawings, the containers are repurposed as a stage for historical representation and reenactment, reminding us that history is not a final statement, but a subjective and contested narrative.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Martin Machado is a visual artist based out of San Francisco, CA. His artwork is partially influenced by his experience with maritime labor, spending portions of his year working on international containerships and commercial fishing vessels. These voyages and the crew he works with have become intertwined with the narrative of his artworks.
Machado has exhibited internationally and select exhibitions include Festival Teatro Container, Valparaiso, Chile; Italian American Museum, San Francisco; The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz, CA; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Mexico City, Mexico. His work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Juxtapoz, and New American Paintings. Machado earned his MFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2007.
Martin Machado: Fluid State is curated by Katie Hood Morgan, Curator of Exhibitions and Public Programs, and organized with Christopher Squier, Exhibitions and Public Programs Coordinator. San Francisco Art Institute would like to thank the artist, K. Imperial Fine Art, San Francisco, and Cordesa Fine Art, Los Angeles.
SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs are made possible by the generosity of donors and sponsors. This exhibition is supported by Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and Meyer Sound. Major support is provided by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. Program support is provided by the Harker Fund of The San Francisco Foundation, Institute of Museums and Library Services, Grants for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Work Fund, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, The Robert Lehman Foundation, and Fort Point Beer Company. Ongoing support is provided by the McBean Distinguished Lecture and Residency Fund, The Buck Fund, and the Visiting Artist Fund of the SFAI Endowment.
Main Gallery, SFAI—Fort Mason Campus
Wednesday–Sunday 11am–7pm (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)
Image credit: Martin Machado, Ships Passing, Red Sea, 2018; Oil on canvas; 30 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist and K. Imperial Fine Art.