Billy Martin

USA (1963). Lives and works in New York.


Three graphical scores:

Untitled veve score (2013)
Ink on paper
13 3/8 x 11 INCHES

Untitled score (2009)
India ink on paper
13 3/8 x 11 INCHES

“Kara’i oka” (2009)
Ink on paper
7 1/4 x 10 3/8 inches

Sometimes called Illy B, he is best known for his work as a musician and composer in the music groups Medeski Martin & Wood and The Lounge Lizards. It is nevertheless Billy Martin’s interest in visual arts that has led him down countless other paths to explore new media and forms of expression. It was music that led him to travel, and the African, Oceanic, and Brazilian influence he picked up as a result inform both his visual art and his career as a percussionist. Much like his music, most of his drawings and paintings are the product of chance and his particular brand of improvisation. Through this technique he has created iconic images—such as the famous MMW logo—multimedia collages, experimental music notation, and his own bird portrait style.

These three graphical scores (exhibited along with their audio recordings) are part of a series born from a previous production, Veve, inspired on Haitian voodoo pictures in which improvised mechanical drawings illustrate the music that the instrumentalists play like a tone poem and a guide for improvisation. This imagery is an extension of the artist’s tendency to create and combine iconic images that are frequently an abstraction, allowing the reader to derive his own conclusion from what he is listening to.