2020 was a challenging year for New Zealand artist Martin Basher, and his family, to be based in BedSty, in Brooklyn, New York. After three months of lockdown marked by the endless sirens of shuttling Covid ambulances, the Black Lives Matter protests saw the sirens turn from ambulances to paddy wagons. Tear gas drifted in through the windows on the summer breeze and low-flying police helicopters thundered overhead. Then in the lead up to Independence Day, the city erupted into a month-long binge of dubiously-legal industrial fireworks, driving parents and dogs to insanity with booms loud enough to break windows, 3pm to 3am, every day of the week. Finally, as the weather cooled, the Covid ambulances started to come back.
Martin and his wife, Martha, decided that their home town of Wellington might be a gentler place to be, and have returned home for a much needed sabbatical.
Fast forward through a 'superbly efficient and compassionate NZ quarantine' with very young twin daughters, and Martin is now painting in paradise. I visited him recently on Martin's first day in his new studio (the Art Counsel's boatshed) in Wellington's elusive sunshine, to have a beer and put the world to rights.
Martin's work is incredible and if you don't know it, you need to see it. He shows across NYC, LA, Milan and Auckland. His work responds to global concerns that cover consumption, consumerism, waste and climate change. And yet, these subjects are explored through joyous abstracted sunrises or sunsets, impossibly beautiful fade-striped abstractions, or, in his most recent work, Bird of Paradise flowers and minimalist abstract botanicals.
If you are in Wellington and would like to meet Martin in his studio, get in touch with the Art Counsel and we can arrange a time.