Meet Etienne Martin, the artist behind the facade of one of Montreal’s best poutine joints, Patati Patata. The mural he created on its exterior depicts some of Montreal’s distinct landmarks and possesses a flair that exemplifies the colour and diversity of the neighbourhood it lives in. But Martin’s work extends far beyond painting the walls of this fry and gravy temple.
We stopped by his studio to get a closer look at the man behind the works, and this is what we found.
Born in 1977 to a teacher (his mother) and a printer (his father), Etienne Martin was raised in the city of Sainte-Adèle. As a self-taught artist, he draws much of his inspiration from Picasso, Soutine, Modigliani, and Van Gogh, to name a few. But Martin is much more than this — he is an experimenter, a seeker, and a Quebec artist at his core.
His most iconic paintings portray Montreal architecture, framed by a stained glass effect of multi-coloured rectangles, reflecting Montreal’s religious past and urban rise. However, Martin is also aware of the push and pull between his city and himself. “It is not always Montreal that influences my painting, but my painting that influences Montreal (it may sound pretentious, but that’s what I think anyway).”
From storefronts to old records, Martin uses a variety of odd objects as his canvasses. “I wasn’t trying to paint on anything original, but I work on whatever passes through my hands,” he explains. “These days, it’s album covers; every album cover is unique, and I transform it to give it a second life.”
Many of the works here show a different side of Martin: a more playful, subversive side that distorts the geometry of the human body and face, gender and culture. Etienne Martin’s art embodies the vibrant and flexible movement of people and ideas in Montreal’s present day. Enjoy the weirdness.
For more information on Etienne Martin, visit his website.