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Stephen Martyn Welch

Stephen Martyn Welch
Stephen Martyn Welch - Artist

Stephen Martyn Welch

Born in 1972, Stephen Martyn Welch is one of New Zealand’s major up and coming portraiture talents.

Marty won New Zealand’s prestigious biennial Adam Portraiture Awards in 2012. Having been a finalist twice (in 2008 as well as 2 years earlier in 2006 where he was not only a finalist but also he was acknowledged with the People’s Choice Award.)

Self taught, Marty (as he prefers to be known) cites influences such as Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud, but his work does not share their same fascination with the grotesque and the traumatic. Rather, Marty’s work is characterised by his intense fascination with people, whom he portrays with great humanity.

He is not trying to tell a story or make his motive clear, he is showing you a split second in time that you, the viewer, can interpret as a narrative or decide where the split second will take you next.

A recent exhibition ‘Polaroids’ featured intimate, often uncompromising images in photorealistic or stylised portrayal. It was favorably reviewed in many of the country’s newspapers and magazines and Canvas magazine hailed him as one of New Zealand’s emerging hot artistic properties.

Marty also features in Richard Wolfe’s new book “New Zealand Portraits”

“The Sitting” was a television programme for TVNZ6 by Topshelf Productions comprising portraits of a number of well-known New Zealand faces from television and the arts, including Kevin Milne, Jacob Rajan, Lucy Lawless, Ian Mune and Tiki Taane. Welch says that painting celebrities can present a unique set of problems which he has to overcome. “I don’t like painting a façade”, he says. “Celebrity sitters sometimes switch straight into character, emphasizing the public rather than the personal. I need to follow my instinct with each individual to find their core.” Welch’s approach visualizes the finished work first, before working out how to ‘build’ the portrait.

Natural expression and alternating stylistic approaches depending on each subject, characterize Welch’s portraits which consistently present a “warts and all” image. “My engine is always running,” he says. “I ask my subjects to tell me the essence of their personality.”

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