Martin Whatson

Martin Whatson (1984) is a Norwegian street artist who is best known for his calligraphic scribbles in shades of grey. Over the past decade, Martin has developed an aesthetic that combines abstract movement with figurative stenciled compositions. His work can be seen to mirror the rise and fall of the streets, as he symbolically recreates the urban environment, then vandalizes it to reveal his vibrant transformations.

Martin grew up in Oslo, Norway, and was an active part of the emerging graffiti scene in the early 90s, which at the time maintained zero tolerance. The physical architecture of the city was a constant inspiration, the deepening and destruction of each generation contributing to the urban infrastructure. The same deconstructive processes can be seen in his creative influences of Jose Parla and Cy Twombly. In the early 2000s, this interest in layers became more literal with the introduction of stencils into his work.

With as many works on walls as on canvas and paper, the relationship between vulnerability and strength remains constant in each work. Delicate and organic characters have; butterflies, ballerinas and animals, all rendered in empty grayscale. Almost stylized, these minimal figures are constructed from a few layers of hand-cut stencils. The ashy tones in the compositions and empty backgrounds are reminiscent of his alternative canvases, the concrete. True to form, no gray space stays gray for long in Martin's presence. Whether fully immersive or embellishing a detail, the images disappear beneath expressive, spray-painted coats of assorted colors and textures.

Martin's work includes festivals, projects and walls globally. His original works can be found in private collections and institutions with solo exhibitions in cities from Tokyo to LA, London to New York.