• 1 of 2: Image courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

  • 2 of 2: Detail of R.I.P. Amy Winehouse by Chris Martin. See it reprinted in Gulf Coast 28.1.

Homage to Amy Winehouse

Chris Martin

From the Art Lies Feature: Prepositional Art

I fell in love with Amy Winehouse when I first heard her Back To Black album. I assumed she was a middle-aged African American woman—and (like many others) was amazed to find she was a young English kid…

The depth and power and emotional reality of her singing was (is) stunning.

I also realized (like many others) that Amy’s self-destructive urges were powerful and possibly fatal. In 2007 I started a series of paintings For The Protection Of Amy Winehouse—using photos of her and surrounding her image with various forms and talismans—as a half-serious, half-absurd attempt to keep her safe. I made quite a few of those paintings and showed them in New York, Berlin, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. Obviously it didn’t work.

After her death I became obsessed with the number 27 and the whole Saturn returns idea—Basquiat, Cobain, Joplin, Morrison, Hendrix—and I have continued to paint the image of 27.

I also started a series of portraits of her thinking about that gold Warhol painting of Marilyn. I was trying to do some kind of iconic thing. I am no portrait artist and I found it incredibly hard to paint her—I must have painted her in and out hundreds of times on various canvases. I have continued to try to paint her without success. I was able to finish the large 2011-2012 painting when I painted a white double cross form over her face.

—Chris Martin