Martin Askem by Isabel del Rio
I have been teaching art history for years. ‘Who do you prefer: Velázquez or Goya?’ My students used to ask me as if we were speaking about football teams. Anyway, I have never been angry with this question (repeated year after year, month after month) because I think if you live a subject with passion, you finish as a football fan. ‘Well, Velázquez is incredible, the best technique a painter can achieve but I prefer Goya,’ I usually answer. ‘Both of them are very creative, don’t misunderstand me, but Goya painted with guts, unable to be politically correct, always his true soul is on the canvas?’
Yes, it is not easy to put so much passion in a work, a part of yourself is delivery to the viewer for nothing, only for a moment of understanding which doesn’t always happen. It is better to be Velázquez, if people don’t understand him, at least they remain open-mouthed shouting: ‘What difficult! How he could paint it!’
Yes, my admiration always will be for painters with guts: Martin Askem is one of them. He is not painting portraits of pretty faces, he is painting the many faces of a person: in the end, his face. Pleasure, pain, anxiety, excitement, disappointment, courage, anger emanate from some beings who mingle with their peers in the confusion which is our world, our life. Sometimes, it is a world in black and white, but when the color explodes we see again the explosion of a passion which goes beyond the picture frame, which splashes and catches us.
Yes, it is impossible to be indifferent in front of Martin Askem’s works. One thousand and one opinions can be done because everyone will speak about its soul…, normal reaction to the questions which are emerging of his paintings.
And you, who do you prefer: Velázquez or Goya?
More: Martin Askem, ‘The Saviour of Modern Art’