Gijsbert George Martens (Groningen 1894-1979) was a visual artist and co-founder of the Groningen Art Circle De Ploeg. His father was an accomplished amateur painter of seascapes. In addition to the National Higher Trade School, he took drawing courses at the Minerva Academy and moved on to the art academy. There he met Johan Dijkstra, Jan Altink and Jan Wiegers, among others, and his later wife Alida Pott, with whom he had two sons. In 1931 Alida died of lung disease. Some years after her death, Martens met Carla Uithof, whom he married in 1937 and had a third son.
At the exhibition in Pictura in 1918, entries by Altink, Dijkstra, George Martens and Wiegers were not admitted. This was the direct reason for the establishment of 'an art circle De Ploeg'.
Portret Jan Altink 1927
Martens submitted 10 works for the first Ploeg exhibition in February 1919. Besides ships, they were mainly cityscapes. In 1954 Pictura organized an honorary exhibition. 92 of his works were on display there. He also participated in various exhibitions in between. He was also editor of the literary-political magazine Het Kouter for some time and chairman from 1932 to 1934. And although things did not always get along between him and De Ploeg, it was an alliance for life, because he remained a member of De Ploeg until his death and was chairman again from 1963 to 1967. In addition to painting, Martens was also involved in advertising work (posters and leaflets). A special category in his work is the depiction of fairground and sports scenes such as the TT and skating competitions.
His work was typical of Groningen expressionism with powerful colors and spontaneous use of the brush. Portraits, cityscapes and pieces painted from his barge 'Alida' are dominant in his oeuvre. He captured the dynamics of city life extremely well. Like other expressionists, Martens made woodcuts, but he usually opted for the directness of the pencil or the flexible brush. In any case, he was less interested in patiently engraving an etching plate. And like several Ploeg painters, Martens also worked for some time with wax paint, such as 'Vischmarkt' from 1927 and 'Trottoir with pedestrians' from 1926. From 1950 onwards, Martens' health problems increased and production decreased.