Martin Mainer is one of the most important figures in contemporary Czech painting, with his roots in the generation of the eighties. He began by showing at various unofficial exhibitions entitled Confrontations, which were organised by students at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague, during the eighties. It was through these exhibitions that the names of new-wave artists became known, characterised by a sensual, emotional, expressive painterly style. Mainer’s first canvas was charged with fantasy and imagination and drew on the tradition of Czech baroque painting. When in 1991 he was selected by Dutch art historians for the exhibition Wanderlieder at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (which also included works by Gilbert and George, Clemente, Kunc, Faber, Kabakov, et al.), Mainer painted a baroque altar from the town of Cadaques on plywood which he had covered by an eleven-metre wall. In 1993 he won the prestigious Jindřich Chalupecký prize, which included a study trip to Headlands in California in 1994. There he met Richard Alpert alias Ram Dass (servant of god), the American philosopher inspired by Indian and Eastern philosophy. Ram Dass’s influence remains with Mainer to this day. The following exhibition in Nová síň in 1996 entitled Trip to India by the Western Route was directly inspired by his stay in America, and the leitmotif of the cycle was the “rám” [frame] painted onto the pictures. Rama, the main Indian god, forms the basis for the word frame in all European languages and creates the “visual” space of our lives and painted pictures. The exhibition tells of experiences from California, the Albion River, the architecture of a houseboat, fire, and the Buddha. However, it is not only his work with brush, paint, light and symbols which determined the artwork, but the artist’s sensitive approach to his material. He often uses materials which inspire him in relation to the environment in which the picture arose. For instance, in 1993 during a study trip in Switzerland to a former sanatorium he used paper boards containing the case histories of patients, electrically waxed paper, paint produced from Alpine rocks, and photocopy toner. At other times he used foam mattresses (1994), which he ripped so that they resembled the weathered sandstone walls of Italian churches and their worn floor tiling. As a result of his studies of textile design at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design and his later interest in the painted ornaments of carpets inspired by van Eyck’s Madonna on a Throne, a series of carpets was created. Ornamentation is also present in an early work by Mainer involving thirty pictures on photocopy paper entitled Night of the Crocodiles (1985).
In 1999 Mainer surprised everyone when at the Rudolfinum Gallery, instead of the anticipated retrospective, he introduced a new approach based on his studies of magic and automatic drawing. Entitled Trailer of the Forest of Forests, an exhibition of 200 pastels on black paper, diary entries in the form of drawings and text, the series Night of Crocodiles, and the series Czech Castles and Chateaux (1986-90), twenty painted reproductions of photographs of historically arranged rooms. In its way it was the supreme example of his work, based on his attempt to examine transformations in consciousness and very deliberately concerned with cosmological forms. Recently the painter has again returned to working outdoors and finding inspiration in nature. He continues to construct higher series of pictures linking the spirit and nature in a world full of multilayered metaphor. At the same time he is creating “Visions for You” on large canvases (250x330), three of which are on show at present at DOX, and the entire cycle of which will be exhibited in Waňkovka in April 2011. He is also continuing with the series “Plasma Canvas”, started in 2001. Here too his painterly skills cannot be separated from his rich experience and spiritual cultivation of an almost magical form.
Martin Mainer - Nina Hedwic, Kalendář, text Vlasta Čiháková-Noshiro, Galerie kritiků, Praha 2010.
Martin Mainer. Text Dušan Brozman, Týnec 2007.
Martin Mainer – Vlek lesa lesů. Texty Ludvík Hlaváček, Martin Mainer, Praha 1999.
Peter Rónai, Tomáš Ruller, Petr Kvíčala, Jiří David, Martin Mainer, Vladimír Kokolia. Brno 1999.
Martin Mainer – Práce na papíře, hrady, zámky a zvířata. Text Aleš Rezler, Kutná Hora 1997.
Martin Mainer – Výlet aneb do Indie západní cestou. Text Martin Mainer, Praha 1996.
Martin Mainer – Laureát Ceny Jindřicha Chalupeckého. Texty Mahulena Nešlehová, Věra Jirousová, Praha 1994.
Martin Mainer – Obrazy. Text Jiří Hůla, Olomouc 1994.
Martin Mainer. Texty Viktor Pivovarov, Jiří Olič, Cheb/Ostrava 1993.
Dušan Brozman, Galerie, in. A2 13/2006, s. 27.
Ludmila Škrabáková, Malířství, psychotronika a pečená kachna, in. Regenerace 1/2005, s. 18–19.
Veronika Bromová, Martin Mainer, in. Art & antiques 12/2004, s. 48–59.
Petr Volf, Někdy je to euforie, in. Reflex, 1/1999, s. 18–21.
Josef Holeček, Mainer v Rudolfinu, in. Detail 8/1999, s. 15.
Lenka Lindaurová, Kudy vláčí Martina Mainera jeho vlastní les, MF Dnes 8. 10. 1999.
Petr Volf, Vlek lesa lesů. Pozoruhodné výlety Martina Mainera, in. Reflex, 43/1999, s. 63.
Karel Císař, Topografie obrazu Martina Mainera, in. Host 1/1997, s. 104–105.
Věra Jirousová, Martin Mainer, in. Detail 4/1996, s. 23.
Lenka Lindaurová, Výlet aneb Do Indie západní cestou, in. Týden 4/1996, s. 61.
Marek Pokorný, Mainerovy obrazy se nyní vzdouvají, in. MF Dnes, 27. 1. 1996, s. 11.
Jiří Hůla, Svatý Mainer, in. Ateliér, 14–15/1994, s. 4.
Robert Novák, K Martinovi Mainerovi, in. Ateliér, 14–15/1994, s. 4.
Marek Pokorný, Eroticko-romantická maximaineriáda, in. MF Dnes 25. 5. 1994, s. 11.
kronikář města Havířova: Martin Mainer, Kronika města Havířova, 1994.
Josef Hlaváček, Cena Jindřicha Chalupeckého udělena, in. Ateliér 22/1993.
Mahulena Nešlehová, Iluze slasti, in. Výtvarné umění 2/1992, s. 48-57
Mahulena Nešlehová, Iluze slasti. K malířské tvorbě Martina Mainera, in. Výtvarné umění, 2/1992, s. 48–57.
Tomáš Motl, Porod. Netradiční výlet pražského malíře, in. Reflex 18/1992, s. 54–57.
Petr Volf, Mainer ve Stedelijk museum!, in. MF Dnes 3. 2. 1992, s. 6.
Blanka Jiráčková, Wanderlieder, in. Ateliér 7/1992, s. 8.
Věra Jirousová, Magický kruh Martina Mainera, in. Ateliér 2/1991, s. 5.
Lenka Lindaurová, Mainer Udivého muže, in. Lidové noviny 17. 12. 1990.
Lenka Lindaurová, Seznamte se: Martin Mainer, malíř, in. Mladý svět, 20/1988.