'You could look at this for a second and enjoy it, but once you start to follow all its visual leads, you might be there forever'

Eye of the Storm, 2002, by Michael Craig-Martin RA (b.1941), 11ft by 9ft 2in, Private Collection

Martin Roth says:
“Such life and power in collection of junk—a plastic jelly shoe, a cassette tape,a garden fork, a safety pin,a metronome (intriguing), a pair of handcuffs (even more intriguing). It takes an artist-designer like Michael Craig-Martin to create a painting so graphically bold and so conceptually complex. To me, it says so much about what contemporary product design says about us. You could look at this for a second and enjoy it, but once you start to follow all its visual leads, you might be there forever.’

Martin Roth is the Director of the V&A.

John McEwen comments:
Michael Craig-Martin was born in Dublin during the Second World War, after which his father joined the World Bank in the USA. His early interest in modern art was reinforced by drawing classes with a Catalan artist in Bogotá, Colombia, where his father worked for a year. While at the Yale University School of Art, he took all the Josef Albers studio courses, which he considers profoundly influenced him.

He has lived in England since 1966 and has exhibited across the world; in 1989, the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London put on a retrospective show of his work; there was another at the Irish Museum of Modern art in Dublin in 2006. He is also known as an influential teacher and many of his students at Goldsmiths during the late 1980s, including Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst, went on to become famous as the YBAs (Young British Artists).

Although most of his work continues to be studio-based, since the early 1990s, Mr Craig-Martin has used a computer on which to draw and develop complex compositions and projects. His current work includes painting, sculpture, installations, drawings, prints and computer works, such as the portrait of Lady Burlington at Chatsworth. His work is well known for line drawings of everyday objects and a use of vivid of colours.

Of Eye of the Storm he writes: ‘this is the most compositionally complex painting I ever did. It is comprised of a large number of separately drawn, differently scaled and brightly coloured objects, assembled so as to overlap each other and occupy the entire space of the painting without any indication of place or background. The result is a highly claustrophobic space with the implication of compressed latent energy.’