Martin Payton: Dark Matter – Sculpture in Welded Steel

Exhibition Dates: October 1–October 29, 2022
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 1 from 6–9 pm, in conjunction with Art for Arts’ Sake
Gallery Location: 432 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm
Contact Info: 504.522.1999;

The Arthur Roger Gallery is pleased to present Dark Matter, an exhibition of sculptures by Martin Payton. The exhibition will be on view at Arthur Roger@434, located at 434 Julia Street, from October 1–29, 2022. The gallery will host an opening reception with the artist in attendance, Saturday, October 1 from 6–9 pm in conjunction with Art for Arts’ Sake.

Dark Matter is Martin Payton’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition features 12 sculptures constructed from found steel. The imperfections found in the time-worn surfaces of the found material suggest transformation, survival, and spiritual resilience. The artist draws inspiration from the work of African American musicians. Their work continues the chants and polyrhythms of the artist’s African roots. Payton’s response has been to explore the connections between the temporal forms of music and the plastic forms of sculpture.

Payton’s sculptures are wholly reliant on the found objects. The artist is inspired by the irregular twists and stressed contours of the material. He assembles the metal and creates actual and implied movement, contrast, improvisation, rhythmically orchestrated intervals, and alternating dominance of shape. The dance between the artist and the medium blend like improvisational jazz to create the final form. 

His sculptures are often named for historical or cultural aspects of the African diaspora, musicians, or the fruit of musicians’ labor. The work is not intended to act as a portrait, but rather as a contemporary statement on the cultural material created by his forefathers. 

Born in New Orleans in 1948, Martin Payton currently lives and maintains a studio in Baton Rouge. He studied at Xavier University in New Orleans where he met and studied under the influential John T. Scott. He went on to earn his MFA from the ​​Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles before returning to Xavier to begin a long career as an art professor. Payton’s work is held in the permanent collections of NOMA, the Amistad Research Center, the William King Regional Arts Center, and the Rosekrans Runnymede Sculpture Garden. In 2002, as part of a collaboration with friend and colleague John T. Scott, Payton constructed the Spirit House, a public art project that celebrated African American contributions to New Orleans by incorporating drawings of area school children into the project.