Koby Martin, Asiamah Exhibition at The Old Street Gallery


The Old Street Gallery, laying at the furthest corner of the Shoreditch triangle, fits in perfectly amidst the surrounding modern corporate architecture-though the slight inconsistency in textures between the surrounding buildings makes recent renovations evident. Even within Shoreditch; an area full of aesthetic character, this street certainly stands out for its noticeable charm. As you pass the small roundabout and steadily make your way along the cobbled street, one must remember to be cautious as the lack of disparity between the depth of the street and the pavement makes it easy to forget you are walking on the road. As you enter the gallery through a secret door and down a flight of stairs, you are welcomed by heavenly polished white surfaces separated by the large rectangular paintings of Koby Martin. There was a noticeable contrast struck between such an unpigmented space and these incredibly dark pieces rife with elements of misery and other undesirable emotions. This gave the exhibition immense value and required more viewing time before the message could be truly understood.

The paintings telling the story of how Koby lost his father reveal how he eventually managed to find peace as he became a man (“A man is not a man until his father dies turning a home into a house || Psalm 127 vs 1”). The first appearance one is made to feel is as if the steep walk down the stairs into the gallery leads us into the ‘underworld’. The black backgrounds, thick layers of paint depicting fire and even a skull engulf us in the loss and isolation Koby must have felt at this time. However, after deeper analysis of all the paintings and a short conversation with Koby himself, elements of joy and freedom soon became clear within the exhibition.

As he wrote in an Instagram post of his piece ‘Psalm 91 vs 11’ “describes how God guided {Him through the dark and the tough time’s of [His] Fathers passing”. Although the passing of a loved one is always followed by tremendous pain, the knowledge of their safety provides us with peace whilst attempt to continue their legacy through our actions redefines one's purpose.