Layered Realities: Exploring Martin Whatson’s “InsideOutsider” / Eva Marie Bentsen

Martin Whatson, a Norwegian stencil artist born in 1984, has carved out a distinctive niche in the contemporary and street art worlds. His journey from street art to international acclaim is a narrative of artistic evolution and the versatility of visual language. This book, written by art dealer and curator Eva Marie Bentsen, offers a comprehensive look at Whatson’s career, from his early experiments in graffiti to his current status as a celebrated fine artist. His education at the Westerdals School of Communication in Oslo laid the groundwork for a unique blend of graphic design and urban art, defining his approach to art-making.

Early Works and Influences

The initial sections of the book explore Whatson’s early period, where his engagement with graffiti and stencil art began to shape his artistic voice. These early works reveal a developing style, marked by influences from notable artists like DOLK and Banksy. During this time, Whatson started to refine his distinct blend of political themes and aesthetic appeal. His participation in the Nuart Festival, championed by Stavanger art dealer and street art festival curator Martyn Reed, undoubtedly played a crucial role in bringing his work to a broader audience.

Studio Canvases and Style Development

Readers can observe Whatson’s transition from outdoor walls to studio canvases through the book. You see highlights of his exploration of urban landscapes and decay, an ongoing theme in his work and part of the lingua franca of street artists worldwide. His artistic expression, once more heavily political, has evolved into a subtler form, still retaining some of its original edge. The featured studio works exemplify this shift, demonstrating his signature combination of urban elements with a more poetic narrative. The book showcases his venture into sculpture, which allows readers to see how his themes translate into three-dimensional forms, often reflecting his familiar motifs.

Collaborations and Diverse Artistic Dialogues

The book’s concluding section focuses on Whatson’s collaborations, highlighting his interest and ability to merge his artistic vision with that of others. These joint projects, featuring a diverse range of artists, illustrate Whatson’s adaptability and his commitment to the communal spirit of street art. with a wide audience, transcending traditional boundaries of street and fine art.

This is an insightful look into Martin Whatson’s artistic journey, showcasing how he has navigated the realms of street and fine art with his authenticity – an informative resource for those interested in the intersections of modern art, street art, and the dynamic process of artistic evolution.

The book is an overview of his career thus far. You may be familiar with him here because he has been a trusty recurring participant in the Nuart Festival, championed by Stavanger curator and art dealer Martyn Reed for a decade – exposing his work to an international art press and collection of academics, writers, fans, etc. This has contributed to his success and name recognition in certain circles.


Photographer Martha Cooper takes a photo of Martin with Jaime and Steve at the opening of his exhibition at Harman Projects on September 09, 2023, in NYC. (photo courtesy ©Hama Woods)

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