Julian Martin

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Australian artist Julian Martin in September 2015

Julian Martin (born Melbourne 1969) is an Australian artist, known primarily for his pastel drawings and self-portraits. Martin resides in the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster, and has worked from his Northcote-based studio at Arts Project Australia since 1989, where he has also had numerous solo shows. He has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally [see Exhibitions] and in 1994 he was a finalist in the prestigious Moët & Chandon Travelling Fellowship. In 2014 he was the winner of the Australian State Trustees Connected art prize. His work is held in several public collections, including the Deakin University Art Collection, the City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection and Monash University Museum of Art.

Early life and education[edit]

Martin was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and was supported and encouraged by his parents, who claimed that his diagnosis had ‘cemented’ their family and that he showed signs of ‘promise.’[1] He attended a program for special-needs children, but did not start making art until approximately the age of ten. During his time at an autism-specific school, which he attended for several years, he “won a minor art prize,”[2] however the early promise identified by his parents was not realised until 1989, when an instructor at the Adult Day Centre at which Martin attended recognised his artistic talent.[3] Shortly thereafter he began working at Arts Project Australia, an organisation devoted to supporting and promoting artists with an intellectual disability. Although Martin received no formal training, his participation in the studio program at Arts Project Australia gave him access to fine art materials and the informal tuition provided by the practicing artists employed by the organisation. It was one such artist who, in the early 1990s, suggested the use of a mirror as a drawing aid, which eventually led to the development of his signature depictions of mask-like faces executed in pastel.[4] These early works were exhibited in Martin's first solo show, entitled Pastel Drawings at the Australian Galleries in Collingwood, Melbourne.

Career, themes and style[edit]

Both Martin's lack of formal training and autism have identified him as one of the key figures within the Outsider Art category in Australia. This categorisation is confirmed by his repeated inclusion in Outsider Art exhibitions and fairs, both in Australia and in the USA. However, in recent years his work has also achieved success in more conventional art institutions and Alex Baker, former curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Victoria has likened his works to those of American Abstract artists of the 1930s and 1940s such as Adolph Gottlieb, William Baziotes and Ad Reinhardt, claiming that they are similarly characterised by “pictographic, biomorphic and hard-edged abstraction.”[5]

A highly prolific artist[2] whose works number in the hundreds and are stored in the archival collection of Arts Project Australia,[6] Martin's work has developed from early abstracted monochrome figures and profiles[4] into a practice which combines source material found in newspapers and magazines[2] with the bold, flattened geometric repetition of form that has become his “signature style.”[4] Recent works are drawn from mainly photographic and physical sources ranging from depictions of Hollywood celebrities, politicians and sports stars to an eclectic range of kitchen utensils, tools, letters and logos. The expansion of subject matter in recent work has been accompanied with a more textural and layered use of the familiar pastel medium - Baker notes the use of etching implements to create works which are “abraded, scoured and pitted,”[5] stating that they stand as “testimony to the artist’s vigorous process.”[5]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Julian Martin Solo, No Vacancy Project Space, Melbourne, 2015
  • Julian Martin: Transformer, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2014
  • Julian Martin New Work, Kitty Somerset, Northcote, 2011
  • Draw, Manningham Gallery, Melbourne, 2009
  • Julian Martin Recent Works, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2006
  • New Works, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2003
  • Sempiternal Variations, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2001
  • Pastel Drawings, Australian Galleries, Collingwood, 1995

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

  • Here and Now, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, Melbourne, 2016
  • Measurably Long Kool, Fleisher Ollman, Philadelphia, USA, 2016
  • Paper Projects, La Trobe University, Melbourne, 2016
  • The Outsider Art Fair 2015, (Fleisher/Ollman booth), New York, USA, 2016; 2015; 2014; 2009
  • The Salon, Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne, 2015
  • Down The Rabbit Hole, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2015
  • Connected, Yarra Gallery, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2014; 2010; 2009; 2003–2007;1999
  • Everyday imagining: new perspectives on Outsider art, The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne, 2014
  • Melbourne Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, 2014; 2012; 2010; 2008; 2006; 2004; 2002; 2000
  • 6° of Separation, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2014
  • Renegades: Outsider Art, Moree Plains Gallery, Moree, NSW, 2014
  • National Works on Paper, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2014; 2000; 1998
  • Animal Magnetism, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2014
  • Renegades: Outsider Art, The Arts Centre Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 2014
  • The Armory Show, (Fleisher/Ollman booth), New York, USA, 2014
  • Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria, 2014
  • Chicago Expo: Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Chicago USA,2013
  • Renegades: Outsider Art, KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns QLD, 2013
  • Outsiderism, Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia, USA, 2013
  • At the Table, Arts Project Australia, Melbourne, 2013
  • Halo and the Glory of Art, McGlade Gallery, ACU Sydney, 2012
  • Paint It Black, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2012
  • Exhibition #4, Museum of Everything, London, 2011
  • Colour My World, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2011
  • Hidden, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2010
  • Myscape, Trongate & Collins Gallery, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland, 2010
  • Snapshot, ACGA Gallery, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2009
  • Pictures of You, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2009
  • Alan Constable & Julian Martin, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 2009
  • Pearls of Arts Project Australia, Stuart Purves Collection, NSW, 2009; 2008; 2007
  • Lets Get Lost, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne
  • In Everyone’s Company, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2006
  • Australian Outsiders, Jack Fischer Gallery, California, USA, 2006
  • Leo Cussen with Selected Artists, Australian Galleries, Collingwood, 2005
  • South of the Border, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2005
  • Dealer’s Choice, Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York, USA, 2005
  • 2nd Annual Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art, Chicago, United States, 2005, New York
  • Visual Disobedience, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2005
  • A Sense of Place, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 2003
  • Fair Game, NGV Response Gallery, Melbourne, 2003
  • Headspace, National Neuroscience Facility, Melbourne, 2003
  • Suburban Dreamers, Moore's Building, Fremantle, 2002
  • Art of the Sacred Heart, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, 2001
  • Face-Up, Idiom Studio, Wellington, New Zealand, 2001
  • Histoires de vivre, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2000
  • Arterial - artists from Arts Project Australia, Paralympic Arts Festival, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, 2000
  • On Track, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne
  • Artists from Arts Project Australia, Australian Galleries Works on Paper, Sydney, 1999
  • Nillumbik Art Award, Melbourne, 1999
  • La Femme, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 1999
  • Bazaar, Pitspace, RMIT, Bundoora, 1998
  • Knock Knock group show, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 1997
  • Prints and Artists Books, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 1997
  • Drawing on Experience: Reflections on Popular Culture (National touring exhibition), Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 1996
  • Border Crossing, McClelland Regional Gallery, Langwarrin, Victoria, 1996
  • Eyes on the Ball, National Touring Exhibition, MOMA (Heide), Melbourne, 1996
  • Art des Antipodes, MADMusée, Liège, Belgium, 1995
  • Vita Gallery, Portland, Oregon, USA, 1995
  • Reversed Image, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 1995
  • Moët et Chandon Travelling Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1994
  • Beyond Words, National Gallery of Victoria, VicHealth Access Gallery, 1994
  • Working Art, Arts Project Australia Gallery, Melbourne, 1994
  • Artists from Arts Project, Artist's Garden, Fitzroy, 1990


Julian Martin: Transformer, exhibition catalogue, Arts Project Australia, Melbourne, 2014. ISBN 9780958665919


  • Deakin University, VIC
  • City of Melbourne, VIC
  • Monash University Museum of Art, VIC
  • Ecovantage, VIC
  • Concept Economics, Canberra, Private Collection of Henry Ergas


  1. ^ Thomas, Helen (12 February 1979). "He's a Little Boy Lost in a World of His Own". The Age.
  2. ^ a b c Gómez, Edward M. (Winter 2014–2015). "Bold Essays in Colour and Form". Raw Vision 84.
  3. ^ Daye, Cheryl. "Draw: A profile of Julian Martin". Julian Artist.
  4. ^ a b c Roff, S (August 2015). "Julian Martin: Abstracting the Shape". Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. 24 (5): 376–8. doi:10.1017/S2045796015000499. PMC 8367358. PMID 26237539.
  5. ^ a b c Baker, Alex (2014). Julian Martin's Abstraction with a Lower-Case 'a'. Melbourne, Australia: Arts Project Australia. ISBN 9780958665919.
  6. ^ Lester, Libby (23 May 1997). "Art of Communication". The Age.

External links[edit]