These paintings began in America from the summer of 1990 with the
onset of the first Gulf War. They look at America from the point of
view of an outsider.
" Everyone has their own image of America. For the most part it is the people, 'the Americans'. who capture our imagination. Be they presidents, film stars, wrestlers or Wall Street financiers, they absorb, appeal to and appall us. the stage upon which these players strut hardly figures at all. however, it is this stage or landscape that is the chief subject of most of Martin Beek's paintings. People, when they feature, are by no means insignificant but they occupy a small part in the scheme of things, His paintings seem to me to fall into two distinct categories. In the one he depicts that secret America: the largely unexplored and certainly uninhabited countryside of forest and rolling plain; the fearsome emptiness of the New Mexican desert the lush jungle either side of the Mississippi the cold sweep of a British Colombia Lakeside. These paintings are not cosy, railway waiting room art. Like the landscape of the United States and Canada, the images presented are exciting and grand. In what appears to be an entirely different body of work and one which incidentally has not been shown in Britain or America before, Martin depicts the quintessential American Mid-West small town with the comfortable images of library, school, church, twisting river and pleasant green. Here Beek's America is quiet and orderly despite being set in technicoloured aspic. It is a tapestry, fantasy world viewed somewhere above the fluttering Stars and Stripes, where like some sort of benevolent god, he shifts the familiar images around from painting to painting. Beek in these recent works acknowledges the influence of American folk artists Grandma Moses and Grant Wood as Europeans Breughel and Gauguin but the boldness and vibrancy of his colours, whether he is working in oil pastel or water-colours, are all his own making."