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Hot Topic Classicism: Martin Eder at Marlborough Gallery

'A Glimpse of Infinity' 2023

The mall is closing, people. Never did it lay claim to being a beacon of sophistication, quite the opposite, in fact: ‘twas merely a gathering place of commerce & teenage angst, most of which was directed at matters of taste, the mall being the promenade & repository of taste formation for blossoming young Americans at the end of the last century & the beginning of this one. Then everybody went to college & learned about the finer things, the Renaissance, the Romans, the Great Thinkers — but still we wandered around Hot Topic & Spencer’s Gifts, had a laugh & expressed ourselves with our purchasing power. Such is the journey I’m reminded of through the art of Martin Eder.

Is an art gallery really that far removed from that bygone American institution, the mall? Not really. And more importantly: are malls coming back? In the wake of their own imminent closing, the iconic Marlborough Gallery presents their swan song by debuting Eder, whose show, ‘Detox’, as its name suggests, is like a phoenix in the throws of its own demise & prescient anticipation of its Christ-like rebirth thereafter. With the walls of the gallery covered in syrupy clouds & rainbows (& the occasional vomit emoji, for good measure) Eder has created a kind of whimsical mall-based afterlife for our dear Marlborough, as well as gracing the gallery with an ultimate irony-laced middle finger to the art world. Applause is in order. 

It is always delicious when an artist openly challenges ideas of taste & prudence. Eder’s sumptuously rendered oils put taste & prudence through a meat grinder, one that is made out of a rambunctiously piebald internet search history (think of the shared family computer of yore, where a teenage boy secretly goes down a rabbit hole of porn one minute & his little sister looks up bunnies & kittens the next, ad infinitum). Whereas Jeff Koons’ interest in acidic kitsch took us to the circus & gas station porcelain shelf, Eder, like Virgil leading Dante through the netherworld, guides us through the modern over-saturated hell of digital-mediated reality that is contemporary life: everything under a thick frosting of irony, innocence nowhere, scams everywhere, a labyrinth of deception & cunning & appeal to the lowest common denominator. Clickbait art, as it were. Quite brilliant.

Everyone knows cats rule the internet, but can they rule the art world? Time will tell. RIP Marlborough, & thank you for this final gift, you’ll be missed!

—The Art Fart

Images courtesy Marlborough Gallery. 'Detox; is on view through June 29th, 2024 & will be the gallery's final exhibition.

Image captions:

  1. Death is a Candy, 2024; oil on canvas; 90 1/2 × 127 7/8 in. / 230 × 325 cm

  2. Bored by Love, 2024; oil on canvas; 88 1/2 × 59 in. / 225 × 150 cm

  3. Geist/Psyche, 2022; oil on canvas; 78 5/8 × 59 in. / 200 × 150 cm

  4. See the Colours in the Darkness, 2023oil on canvas; 78 5/8 × 53 1/8 in. / 200 × 135 cm

  5. The safe Haven of the Unknown, 2023; oil on canvas; 88 1/2 x 59 in. / 225 x 150 cm

  6. You can’t take away the End, 2024; oil on canvas; 59 × 39 1/4 in. / 150 × 100 cm

  7. Your Kink Is Chaos, 2023; oil on canvas; 33 3/8 × 59 in. / 85 × 150 cm

  8. Steckbrief/profile, 2012; oil on canvas; 73 1/2 × 55 1/2 in. / 187 × 141 cm

  9. Installation view

  10. Installation view

  11. Installation view


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