I first saw Martin Wilner's work in 2005 at Pierogi Gallery in Brooklyn. I was particularly struck by a notebook-sized drawing in which Wilner documented his impressions of a trip he and his Holocaust-survivor parents made to Poland, trying to find the stuff that people who've lived to see the other side of something terrible can never find: reasons, the past, closure. The experience didn't yield what anybody expected; for Wilner it was something on the order of an emotional disaster. The drawing, however, was a success. I walked up to the gallery's director, Joe Amrhein, gave him my phone number, and told him, "Tell this guy to call me—we have a lot to talk about." Our friendship began a couple of weeks later.
Wilner and I have talked about a lot of things since. There's no one quite like him for dispelling your anxieties about the world, while affirming your right to feel anxious in the first place. Maybe it comes from the fact that he's spent years making emotive diaristic drawings while maintaining an unjaundiced eye on the world at large; maybe it's because, as a practicing psychiatrist, he's seen it all. (A specialist in treating Holocaust survivors, he's had to scale back his practice of late to make more time for his art.)
Mixed Media, 212 x 66 inches, Courtesy the artist.
Artist Kirstine Roepstorff was born and trained in Denmark, but lives and works in Berli