Leslie Martinez. The Decorum of this Body. 2023. Acrylic, painting rags, studio clothes, dried paint chips, charcoal, coarse sawdust, pumice on canvas, 60 × 75 × 8″ (152 × 191 × 20 cm). Courtesy Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Paul Salveson

MoMA PS1 will present the first New York museum exhibition of artist Leslie Martinez (b. 1985, McAllen, Texas). On view from November 16, 2023 through April 2024, the presentation will debut new and recent works by Martinez, who lived in New York City for fifteen years before returning to Texas in 2019. The exhibition showcases a selection of paintings that range in scale and burst with color, alongside a new series that explores the politics and poetics of the color gray as a boundless state of possibility.

Using a cosmic palette based on the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) color model, Martinez dyes and pleats canvases of pooled paint, an approach that explores place and ancestry in relation to the handmade and draws on formal legacies of abstraction. Born in the Rio Grande Valley near the US-Mexico border, Martinez wields an embodied way of painting that resists colonial notions of “good taste” and instead embraces the concept of rasquachismo, a resourcefulness embraced out of necessity. Martinez builds on and celebrates generational practices of survival and sustenance learned from their family—who have lived in Texas for generations and worked as farmers, ranchers, seamstresses, and construction workers—by implicating their labor and pride in craft through corporeal paintings brimming with gestural mark making.

Both alluring and abject, the works incorporate remains from the studio—including rags and dried acrylics—combining a no-waste approach with methodologies of rasquachismo. Transforming common and often discarded objects into dynamic compositions, Martinez’s paintings reject disposability and invoke a politics of care—one that embraces histories of painting, labor, queerness, and refusal—defying borders and categorization.

Leslie Martinez (b. 1985, McAllen, Texas) received an MFA from Yale University in 2018 and a BFA from The Cooper Union in 2008. They have had solo exhibitions at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2023), Blaffer Art Museum, Houston (2023) and And Now, Dallas (2021, 2020). Martinez has participated in residencies at venues including Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson (2019) and is a recipient of the United States Latinx Art Forum’s Latinx Artist Fellowship (2022). Their work is in the collections of Dallas Museum of Art; Pérez Art Museum Miami; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Speed Art Museum, Louisville.

The exhibition is organized by Elena Ketelsen González, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.


Support is provided by Kate and Ajay Agarwal, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Broughton, Kevin Del Colle, and Carlos Marsano.


MoMA PS1 champions art and artists at the intersection of the social, cultural, and political issues of our time. Providing audiences with the agency to ask questions, access to knowledge, and a forum for public debate, PS1 has offered insight into artists’ diverse worldviews for more than 40 years. Founded in 1976 by Alanna Heiss, the institution was a defining force in the alternative space movement in New York City, transforming a nineteenth century public schoolhouse in Long Island City into a site for artistic experimentation and creativity. PS1 has been a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) since 1982 and affiliated with The Museum of Modern Art since 2000.

Hours: MoMA PS1 is open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday, and 12:00 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Admission: $10 suggested admission; $5 for students and senior citizens; free for New York State residents and MoMA members. Free admission for New York State residents is made possible by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Tickets may be reserved online at mo.ma/ps1tickets.

Visitor Guide: Discover even more from MoMA PS1 with the Bloomberg Connects app. Read wall text, hear directly from artists, and uncover the building’s history with this multimedia visitor guide. This digital experience is made possible through the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Directions: MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Ave in Long Island City, Queens, across the Queensboro Bridge from midtown Manhattan. Traveling by subway, take the E, M, or 7 to Court Sq; or the G to Court Sq or 21 St Van Alst. By bus, take the Q67 to Jackson and 46th Ave or the B62 to 46th Ave.

Information: For general inquiries, call (718) 784-2084 or visit moma.org/ps1.

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