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(1) Critic’s Choice - Saatchi Online

Urban existence doesn’t have to mean much more than a busy life surrounded by buildings. In between the concrete, steel and stone of the city we are cosmopolitan citizens, strolling around independently, rarely aware of our part in the bigger whole. Our surroundings are encapsulating, alienating and addictive, depending on the mood we’re in and the drugs we’ve taken. The city can be empty and soul-less, liberating and breathtaking.

Pamela Martinez embraces and contemplates the urban landscape and reflects in her series of oil paintings both the emptiness and abundance of the city. Her paintings mostly remind of the state of trance one can reach whilst travelling through a Spanish town on a lazy afternoon, when buildings blur like little blobs into clouded skies and colourful sunsets.

Transparent City (2007) is dark and industrial in the lower regions of the painting, with the chimneys of a factory visible against the dark red sky. The human ability to create darkness is confronting. We have an unstoppable tendency to pollute and destroy; to create smoke for the sake of survival. The more your eyes move away from the smog of the city, the cosier and lighter it becomes, although the shadow of the smoke never entirely seems to disappear.

Fragmented Landscape (2007) offers a panoramic view comparable to the ones visible from the Sacre Coeur in Paris, or the castle of Montjuic in Barcelona. The streets of the old city stretch out into the distance and break up into thousands of tiny houses with no apparent identity of their own. Martinez’ subtle but confident use of colour gives the cityscapes depth and character; they are recognisable as cities even though their relation to the real world remains unknown.

Martinez’ work confirms that cities can provoke many feelings but can also become interchangeable the moment we detach ourselves. As soon as we step back and squint our eyes the city remains nothing more than a collection of buildings in between which we can freely move around searching for our soul."